UNICEF on Friday said that amid the carnage from daily attacks in Gaza and the fog of war, tens of thousands of minors are unaccompanied or separated from their families.
“Our estimates indicate that 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families,” Jonathan Crickx, UNICEF’s top spokesman in the state of Palestine, told a UN briefing in Geneva.
“These children have nothing to do with this conflict yet they are suffering,” Crickx stressed, adding that the estimated figure corresponds to 1% of the overall displaced population of 1.7 million people.
He also underlined that after nearly four months of relentless attacks, all the children in the enclave are believed to need mental health support.
“Palestinian children’s mental health is severely impacted,” he said.
Before the war began on Oct. 7, 500,000 children were already in need of mental help but today all of them, more than 1 million children, need mental support, he added.
Children present symptoms like extremely high level of persistent anxiety, loss of appetite, they can’t sleep, they have emotional outburst, or they panic every time they hear a bombing,” he said.
According to the spokesman, UNICEF and its partners have provided mental health and psychosocial support to more than 40,000 children and 10,000 caregivers since the beginning of the conflict.
Israel last October launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, to date killing at least 27,019 Palestinians and injuring 66,139. It followed an attack by Palestinian group Hamas in which 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed.
The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.