Leila Zerrougui: No Safe Place for the Children Of Gaza

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, July 29, 2014

Statement by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

“After three weeks of conflict, no one can doubt that there are no safe places for the children of Gaza.

Today, another UN school, used to shelter 3,300 displaced people was hit by Israeli shelling, despite clear information provided to the Israeli army from the UN that the school was housing IDPs. Civilians, including children, were killed and injured. I strongly condemn this grave violation of international law.

More than 250,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. Schools and other facilities where children and their families are seeking refuge must be protected at all cost.

As violence continues to escalate, children are caught in the middle of the conflict and protecting them has become nearly impossible. With more than 40% of the Gaza Strip being affected by evacuations or declared no-go zones, the civilian population is left with little possibility to seek protection.

Over a quarter of all civilians killed since 7 July, close to 250, are children.

Health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, which puts an additional strain on already limited resources to care for sick and injured children.

The images we see daily give us additional confirmation that children are bearing the brunt of this conflict. They deserve protection.

Rockets fired into Israel by Hamas have injured children and damaged schools.  Israeli children also deserve to live in peace.

I call on all parties to end all grave violations against children, abide by their obligations under international law to respect the sanctity of life, protect schools and hospitals and honour their obligations to protect humanitarian workers. An impartial investigation into the actions of all parties to the conflict is necessary. Those responsible for war crimes must be held accountable.

I am calling on all parties, and on all those who have influence on the parties, to do all they can to reach a lasting ceasefire and bring this conflict to an end. The children of Gaza and Israel deserve to grow up in peace.”