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UNICEF: 425,000 children in Gaza need immediate psychosocial support

More than 400,000 children in Gaza need “immediate psychosocial and child protection support” following Israel’s devastating assault, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The data is contained in an October report produced by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 538 Palestinian children are confirmed killed by Israeli military attacks during so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’, says UNICEF. More than two-thirds of the child fatalities, 68 percent, were 12 years old or younger.

The UN agency reports that nearly 425,000 children in Gaza are in need of immediate psychosocial and child protection support, including at least 3,373 injured children (some with permanent disabilities), as well as more than 1,500 children who were orphaned.

All require urgent support “to deal with acute levels of psychosocial distress and vulnerability at a time when several neighbourhoods and villages of the Gaza Strip still lie in ruins.”

The report includes the story of 10-year-old Shaima from Shuja’iyya in eastern Gaza City, who, like many others, is regularly seen at home by a counsellor.

Her neighbourhood is “now mostly reduced to a vast expanse of rubble” with “the threat of explosive remnants” looming “around every corner.”

During Israel’s offensive, Shaima’s family sought shelter in her grandfather’s apartment, only for shrapnel from an Israeli shell to kill her father, Adel, and her sister, 2-year-old Dima.

“I saw my uncle carrying my sister. I realized her head was cut off in the shelling. I didn’t look at my father’s body because I was afraid his wounds were as bad. I ran away… I cannot sing anymore. I think of my dad and my sister who are dead. I feel guilty.”

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