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21,000 children missing amid Gaza Conflict: Save the Children

June 25, World (LNW): Save the Children, a British-aid organisation, has reported that up to 21,000 children are missing in the chaos of the Gaza conflict.

Many of these children are believed to be trapped beneath rubble, detained, buried in unmarked graves, or separated from their families.

The group highlighted the difficulty in collecting and verifying information under the current conditions in Gaza.

They estimate that at least 17,000 children are unaccompanied and separated, and approximately 4,000 are likely missing under the rubble, with an unknown number possibly in mass graves.

According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) earlier this year, more than 14,000 children have been killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza since October 7.

Additionally, many children are suffering from severe malnutrition, lacking the energy even to cry.

The Save the Children report further notes that since October, Gaza has faced relentless violence resulting in over 37,000 deaths, including thousands of children.

This violence followed an attack by Palestinian armed groups in Israel, which killed over a thousand people, including at least 33 children.

The report also mentions that around 250 Palestinian children are missing in the occupied West Bank as of June 9.

Jeremy Stoner, Save the Children’s Regional Director for the Middle East, has called for an independent investigation into the situation of Gaza’s missing children and for accountability.

“Families are tortured by the uncertainty of the whereabouts of their loved ones.

No parent should have to dig through rubble or mass graves to try and find their child’s body.

No child should be alone, unprotected in a war zone. No child should be detained or held hostage,” he asserted.

The ongoing conflict has exacerbated the strain on families and communities, as the latest displacements in Rafah have separated more children.

Save the Children’s child protection teams report that it is becoming increasingly difficult to support the growing number of unaccompanied children. The current conditions make it nearly impossible to verify information or provide safe facilities for these children.

A Save the Children Child Protection Specialist explained, “Every day we find more unaccompanied children and every day it is harder to support them.

We work through partners to identify separated and unaccompanied children and trace their families, but there are no safe facilities for them; there is no safe place in Gaza.

Reuniting them with family members is difficult when ongoing hostilities restrict our access to communities and constantly force families to move.”

The organisation’s report underscores the urgent need for a resolution to the conflict and the provision of humanitarian aid to address the dire situation of Gaza’s children.

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