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The United Nations expert on sexual violence in conflict expresses serious concern for hostages in Gaza.
Middle East World News

The United Nations expert on sexual violence in conflict expresses serious concern for hostages in Gaza.

Pramila Patten, the United Nations’ Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, urged for the prompt and secure release of all individuals still held captive.

Ms. Patten had a meeting this week with the mother of a young woman who was abducted, and the mother shared the emotional anguish, hopelessness, and powerlessness that families are experiencing while awaiting the safe return of their family members.

Sexual violence risk 

She stated that the impact of this war on innocent civilians, from both sides, is too great and needs to come to an end. It is known that during abductions or detentions, women are particularly vulnerable to various types of violence, such as sexual violence.

As a result, I urge Hamas to release the remaining captives, specifically the 15 women, without delay and without conditions. I implore governments, NGOs, religious figures, and women’s rights groups to join me in this call for action.

Ms. Patten remembered that both sexual violence and the act of taking hostages are strictly forbidden by international laws protecting human rights and humanitarian efforts.

Investigate alleged incidents 

She stated that any reports of sexual violence allegedly carried out by Hamas on October 7th must be thoroughly and quickly investigated. She emphasized that the UN is prepared to conduct an independent investigation into any potential violations.

According to her, various groups in Israel, such as emergency responders and forensic specialists, are currently recording instances of sexual violence. These records will be crucial for future investigations and legal consequences.

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Support for ceasefire 

Ms. Patten restated the Secretary-General’s request for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and also urged for urgent humanitarian aid and protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Two separate organizations, aiming to guarantee continuous education for children during times of conflict, have endorsed the request for a humanitarian ceasefire in order to protect lives and secure the future and education of the Palestinian population.

UNRWA schools are now serving as shelters and places where people can get medical care.

“Photo courtesy of UNFPA Palestine, taken by Bisan Ouda.”

UNRWA schools are now serving as shelters and places where people can get medical care.

Action on education

Education Cannot Wait and the Education Above All Foundation are calling for immediate action in Gaza, for education in emergency situations and long-term crises.

“We support the continued efforts to obtain a resolution from the United Nations Security Council and emphasize the importance of safeguarding the safety of civilians and civilian structures, particularly students, teachers, educational staff, schools, universities, and vocational and training centers,” stated the group in a collective declaration.

It was mentioned that the current conflict has resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians and caused significant damage to educational and vocational facilities.

Children have no secure environment.

Over 625,000 students and 22,000 teachers have been impacted by the closure of schools and attacks on educational institutions in Gaza for a period of two months. This has caused a complete disruption of education, with potentially lasting consequences for children in the region.

They also stated that over 8,000 children have lost their lives as of December 18, revealing the lack of any safe locations for children in Gaza.

The partners have united to advocate for safeguarding all children from the impacts of war by providing necessary and urgent medical, psychological, and emotional rehabilitation and aid.

Their dedication to ensuring that survivors, including children who are vulnerable or have disabilities, have equal and secure access to education was emphasized as well.

Providing assistance for education during times of conflict

Education Cannot Wait is a worldwide fund worth billions of dollars that aids in achieving comprehensive educational progress for children who are refugees, internally displaced, or affected by crises.

The mission of Education Above All Foundation is to promote fair and accessible education of high standards for at-risk and marginalized individuals, with a particular focus on those in developing countries and areas affected by conflict.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the former First Lady of Qatar, founded the organization and has been a dedicated advocate for education for many years.