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GAZA: Repeated diplomatic failures continue to cost thousands of children’s lives ahead of UN Security Council meeting

28 November, RAMALLAH – The international community’s failure to agree on a ceasefire is costing thousands of lives, says Save the Children, as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) prepares to meet tomorrow to discuss the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

Since 1945, the UNSC have been unable to reach consensus on the protection of civilians in Israel and Palestine 36 times, through 36 draft resolutions. More than four weeks ago, following four previous failures, the UN passed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce between warring parties, and demanding aid access. Meanwhile, children and families in Gaza have been left without protection and have been denied what they need to survive.

At least 6,000 children have been killed in Gaza since the start of the escalation, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. With challenges in collecting and verifying casualty figures since 11 November due to the collapse of communications and services in hospitals in Gaza, the reality is likely higher. A further 4,400 children are reported missing likely buried under the rubble. 58 children have been killed in the West Bank and 33 in Israel, with at least 36 children estimated to be among the hostages held in Gaza, according to Israeli media.

While the current pause in fighting has allowed agencies to bring some aid and fuel into the south of Gaza, not enough aid is reaching the north, with civilians remaining cut off from electricity, food and water supplies, whilst all hospitals are out of service. This short pause is due to end on Wednesday, and without a ceasefire, Gaza’s children are left to live through a nightmare once again.

While Member States have continued to prioritise politics over people, four out of five people in Gaza have been made homeless, over 60% of Gaza’s buildings have been damaged, health facilities have become battlegrounds, children have continued to wake up as hostages, and water and food supplies have been all but entirely cut. No child in Gaza has gone to school since 7 October and no one knows what the future holds.

James Denselow, Head of Conflict and Humanitarian at Save the Children UK, said:

“The UK must finally endorse the call for a lasting ceasefire and use the opportunity posed presented by the current pause to exert diplomatic pressure to ensure an end to the violence and full, sustained humanitarian access to Gaza.

“By failing to support last month’s UNSC resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the UK ducked its responsibilities – abstention is not leadership. It’s time for the Government to finally step up - history will not forget or forgive inaction.”

Save the Children Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jason Lee, said:

“If the UNSC cannot uphold its mandate to promote peace, security and respect for human rights and international law, then the system is failing. With or without a resolution, children have the right to humanitarian access and protection. When the UNSC calls for these rights to be respected, and still nothing happens, then the global rules-based order is failing those children."

“How many lives have to be lost - from children, civilians, humanitarian staff - before the international community steps up and fulfils its legal, diplomatic and moral obligations to keep civilians safe from the clutches of conflict? The international community must stop standing by while children’s rights continue to be egregiously violated. The cost of inaction is the destruction of children’s lives and robbing them of their futures.”

Save the Children is calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and the protection of children and civilians. All parties to the conflict and the international community must meet their obligations under international humanitarian law.