UNICEF: Gaza children continue to suffer physically and psychologically

UNICEF: Gaza children continue to suffer physically and psychologically

The UN children”s fund (UNICEF) reported Tuesday that children in Gaza continue to suffer both physically and psychologically despite the Israeli war which ended 100 days ago, stressing the need for allowing in supplies and materials needed for recovery and rehabilitation.

The UNICEF said that five children have died while at least 14 others were injured in unexploded ordnance-related incidents since the end of the 22-day Israeli war.

The UNICEF underlined that the Israeli war on Gaza took a heavy toll on children’s psychological wellbeing, adding that a recent UN study reaffirmed that mental health, anxiety and stress are the main health problems in Gaza.

According to the latest figures, 65 essential drugs were out of stock at Gaza’s central store, the UNICEF noted.

In another context, defense for children international (DCI) said that the number of children arrested and detained by Israel has risen by about 40 percent compared to the number for the same period last year.

DCI explained that the Israeli occupation authority intensified arrest of Palestinian children during the last two months, whereby the end of February 2009, the number of Palestinian children in detention had reached a peak of 423, one of the highest since the start of the second Intifada.

DCI added that it noted in early 2009 a worrying increase in arrests of children between the ages of 12 and 13 years old when it documented the arrest of 10 children compared to three children for the whole year of 2008.

Since the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, the IOA has arrested about 6,700 Palestinian children, currently 423 of them are being held in Israeli prisons in the occupied Palestinian lands and inside Israel in contravention of international law. Six of these children are girls and an additional six are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial, DCI elaborated.

Palestinian child prisoners are exposed to different types of torture, abuse and degrading treatment at the hands of Israeli soldiers and policemen during their arrest and interrogation, DCI said.

DCI highlighted that these Israeli violations aim to break the Palestinian child prisoners psychologically and extract quick confessions to indict them before Israeli military courts which do not provide fair trials to them.

It noted that once Palestinian children are sent to Israeli prisons, they are deprived of their rights guaranteed in the UN convention on the rights of children and the fourth Geneva convention, adding that they are deprived of proper medical care, and are often blackmailed if they seek medical treatment.