Ann Skelton, Chair of the Committee
the CRC press conference on 8 February 2024
No child should grow up in fear, pain and hunger.
Yet, today, no child in Gaza is free from fear, pain and hunger.
In fact, they will be considered lucky if they can even survive this war and have the chance to grow up.
According to the latest UN figures, 27,585 Palestinians have been killed and 66,978 injured since the 7th of October last year.
More than 7,000 are estimated to be buried under rubble, raising the total number of casualties to more than 100,000 people.
Many of them are children.
Some of them have lost their lives, others have lost their limbs, their parents, siblings, and friends. All children living in the Gaza Strip have lost their childhood. They are traumatized, and will forever live with a permanent impact on their mental health.
More than ten children per day, on average, have lost one or both legs in Gaza since the conflict erupted four months ago, according to Save the Children. UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, estimates that at least 17,000 children are unaccompanied or separated from their parents, and almost all of Gaza’s 1.2 million children are in need of mental health and psychosocial support.
These children also need attention and action from the international community.
The ruling of the International Court of Justice on 26 January 2024 found that South Africa’s claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza to be “plausible,” and ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of article II of the Convention” , including killing members of the group; to “prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide”; and to “enable the provision of… humanitarian assistance”.
The Committee – again – urgently appeals for an immediate ceasefire, the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid and the immediate release of all hostages, in particular children and their caregivers. In this regard, we echo the “grave concern about the fate of the hostages” expressed by the International Court of Justice, and we echo also its call for their “immediate and unconditional release.”
In view of the colossal humanitarian needs faced by more than two million people in the Gaza enclave, the Committee urges all donor States who have suspended their funding or future funding to UNRWA, to reconsider their decision immediately and provide sufficient funds to ensure that all urgent aid can be provided to all, to each and every child.
Furthermore, we call for massive psycho-social support to children and families to relieve the traumatic and long-lasting effects of the war, including Israeli children that were victims of or witnesses to the attacks and those whose family members have been taken hostage.
We also emphasise our grave concern about the situation of children living in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, who are facing arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killing, and violence committed by occupying forces and settlers.
We call upon the State of Israel to immediately comply with the ruling of the International Court of Justice. We also call on all States to take action to end the conflict by establishing an immediate ceasefire, resuming peace negotiations and restoring funding to UNWRA without delay.
The State of Israel was on the list of States to be reviewed during this session, the CRC was to have reviewed Israel, but unfortunately the Israeli Government decided to postpone its participation.
The Committee deeply regrets that it has not had the opportunity to review Israel when time is of the essence. The rights of children living under the State of Israel’s effective control are being gravely violated at a level that has rarely been seen in recent history.
We look forward to an interactive dialogue with the State delegation from Israel, which is now scheduled for the Committee’s September session. In the meantime, the Committee will send Israel an additional list of issues on the situation of children in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 7 October 2023.