Children in global conflict zones losing access to aid, warns UN

Almost half of cases of humanitarian access obstruction reported last year involved Israeli forces in Gaza

A Palestinian child suffering from malnutrition receives treatment at Al Awda health centre amid widespread hunger. Reuters
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A UN official warned on Wednesday that an increasing number of children in global conflict zones are being denied critical humanitarian assistance, with aid efforts facing attacks or government restrictions.

“Data gathered for our forthcoming 2024 report shows we are on target to witness a shocking increase of the incidents of the denial of humanitarian access globally,” Virginia Gamba, the Secretary General's special representative for children and armed conflict, told the UN Security Council.

She said that in 2022, the UN verified 3,941 cases of denial of humanitarian access worldwide, with the highest figures verified in the occupied Palestinian territories, Yemen, Afghanistan and Mali.

In last year's report, published prior to the October 7 Hamas attacks that led to the war, almost half of the verified incidents involved Israeli forces obstructing aid into Gaza.

“Globally, the situation is expected to worsen over time owing to the adoption of restrictive laws, administrative decrees and regulations, and increasing control over humanitarian work and workers,” Ms Gamba said.

Since 2019, the numbers have increased exponentially, she added.

Gaza's children face 'severe malnutrition with complications', WHO warns – video

Gaza's children face 'severe malnutrition with complications', WHO warns

Gaza's children face 'severe malnutrition with complications', WHO warns

“Cases of denial of humanitarian access are linked to the restriction of humanitarian activities and movements; interference with humanitarian operations and discrimination of aid recipients; direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure; disinformation and detention, violence against, and killing of, humanitarian personnel; and looting.”

This year's report is scheduled for release this summer.

“As a result of these constraints, children cannot access age-appropriate nutritious food or medical services and have less than 2 to 3 litres of water per day,” Ted Chaiban, deputy executive director of the UN children's fund, told the council.

“The consequences have been clear.”

He noted that one in three children under two years old in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition, “a figure that has more than doubled in the last two months”.

Updated: April 03, 2024, 6:50 PM