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Trauma, stress, and sadness are deeply ingrained in Gaza.
Middle East World News

Trauma, stress, and sadness are deeply ingrained in Gaza.

During a ceasefire in Gaza, Mr. Elder spoke with families and their children amidst the aftermath of weeks of intense violence, resulting in numerous casualties and the displacement of 1.7 million Palestinians.

On October 7th, the violence began when Hamas launched an attack on Israel, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 individuals and the capture of more than 200 hostages.

The current state of affairs appears dire, whether it’s the physical landscape – with the sight of destroyed apartment buildings and rubble, damaged concrete and cars, and people fleeing their homes – or the emotional toll on the residents. The trauma and stress are evident in the expressions of sorrow and sadness that seem to permeate Gaza.

It is currently a very challenging period, and this is essentially a break for humanity. Many individuals are still adjusting after the past seven weeks and are fearful that things will resume as before.

However, 1.5 million individuals have been displaced from their residences, individuals are taking refuge in different shelters, and hospitals are treating numerous children injured by warfare.

Horrendous reality

It’s terrible. I am certain that every child here will require some form of emotional support. Earlier, I spoke to a young boy at this camp, which was supposed to be a technical college but now houses 30,000 to 40,000 people. He lost his mother and sisters in a bombing, but he is not yet aware that his mother has passed away.

This is the truth.

I have communicated with numerous families who have not yet informed a child, who is still healing from the effects of war, that another loved one has passed away. This realization makes their life even more dismal than they had previously believed.

A street in Gaza on 8 October 2023. (file)

© UNRWA/Mohammed Hinnawi

A road in Gaza on October 8, 2023. (file)

War zone

Hospitals are at maximum capacity due to the influx of patients. Emergency wards are overwhelmed with young individuals who have suffered injuries from shrapnel and severe burns. The medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, are working tirelessly and have reached their limit in terms of available space.

The area is like a battlefield. There are kids everywhere, in parking lots, gardens, and even on beds. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of children living in overcrowded camps without access to education. These children are facing cold temperatures, lack of food and water, and are now at risk of a disease outbreak. This is an extremely terrible situation.

Regrettably, I am constantly met with new stories that would once again shatter my heart, especially those of individuals who have endured immense suffering during the conflict.

Sondos, 26, had an emergency cesarean section, naming her newborn Habiba in memory of her other daughter, who was killed on the same day in Gaza.

© UNFPA/Bisan Ouda

At the age of 26, Sondos underwent an urgent cesarean delivery and named her new baby Habiba in honor of her previous daughter who tragically passed away on the same day in Gaza.

Decomposing flesh

I rode on a bus with some children for four days, traveling from the northern hospitals. One of the children had been on the bus for the same amount of time, but unfortunately had a severe injury to the bottom of their foot. After four days, the wound had already begun to decompose due to broken shrapnel burns.

It’s beyond any level of understanding how this has happened at such a scale, and therefore, one of the reasons we keep talking so much that this cannot continue.

At the age of seven, Omar lost his entire family when their home was struck. His mother, father, and twin brother all passed away. Despite his tragic loss, Omar was able to express his current activities to me. He finds comfort in his aunt, who has been a source of incredible support for him.

He continued to shut his eyes, and I attempted to comprehend the reason behind it. I inquired the auntie for an explanation, and she informed me that he was extremely afraid of forgetting what his mother and father looked like. This was his current fear. Therefore, he would close his eyes because he couldn’t bear the idea of losing them in reality and potentially even in his imagination.

A temporary cessation of conflict provides a sense of relief.

In recent days, the performance of all UN agencies has been exceptional.

Due to the high number of pregnant women giving birth in a war-torn area, UNICEF has provided medical resources such as emergency kits for midwives. In addition, they have also supplied oral rehydration salts, intravenous solutions, and multivitamins for children to address concerns about their nutritional health.

The largest organization in Gaza, UNWRA, is providing food, fuel and water to the local residents. The World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing food, while the World Health Organization (WHO) is supplying medicines.

It is necessary for individuals to have a period of time to recuperate.

This temporary break in hostilities must, with moral integrity, develop into a cessation of hostilities and ultimately, a lasting peace.

Over 6,000 children, both boys and girls, have lost their lives and this needs to be put to an end. Countless children have been left without parents and countless parents have been left without their children.

I have only been present here for a week. It is uncommon to converse with someone who has not experienced the loss of a loved one.

It is not feasible to transition from receiving assistance in 24 or 72 hours to being bombarded once more.

It is essential for individuals to have a period of recuperation and for us to have the opportunity to provide assistance. Therefore, a lasting resolution is the only way to truly safeguard the well-being of the community.

Two young boys carry bottles of water at an UNWRA refugee camp in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

© UNICEF/Abed Zaqout

Two adolescent males transport water bottles within a UNWRA refugee camp located in the southern region of Gaza called Khan Younis.

Water, the difference between life and death

The presence of water will determine whether people live or die. UNICEF and our amazing collaborators in Gaza have a well-defined strategy.

We must strive for peace. The continuous bombardments must cease as they are causing destruction to the vital desalination plants in this area.

We must refuel and complete repairs in order to get the plants operational and the pipelines functioning once more.

While it is possible to distribute a large quantity of water bottles, this method is not efficient for delivering aid and will not reach people in a timely manner.