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No respite for children and families in Gaza as UN Security Council ceasefire resolution fails to pass

NEW YORK, 20 February 2024 – The lives of at least one million children in Gaza remain at risk from fighting, starvation and disease, as well as ongoing severe mental distress from months of war, after the UN Security Council failed to pass yet another ceasefire resolution, Save the Children said.

The UK abstained from voting for a third time, which James Denselow, Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Advocacy at Save the Children UK,  called “bitterly disappointing.”

“Furthermore, the actions of the UK Government at the level of the UN Security Council now contradict the UK government’s call for an immediate stop to the fighting,” he added.

“Abstention is not leadership, and it is denying children – many of whom are starving and have no safe place to go – the aid they need to survive.

“What children need is the decisive action required to protect lives. Only an immediate and definitive ceasefire will achieve this.”

The news comes as the death toll for children in Gaza surpasses 12,400, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, and 36 in Israel, according to the UN.  

It also comes after the Government of Israel declared Rafah, the final place civilians thought was safe in Gaza, as its next target.  More than 1.3 million Palestinian civilians including more than 600,000 children are now trapped in Rafah with nowhere else to flee, having followed Israeli-issued “evacuation orders” directing them to the area under the false premise it would be safe. Nowhere in Gaza is safe, Save the Children said.  

Save the Children’s Country Director for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jason Lee, said:    

“We are appalled to hear of this new low in an already deep pit of failures from the international community. After four months of relentless violence, we are running out of words to describe what children and families in Gaza are going through, as well as the tools to respond in any adequate way. The scale of death and destruction is astronomical. And with tanks poised to roll into Rafah, where most of Gaza’s population has been forced to flee amid rising hunger and disease, this war is about to enter the deadliest stage possible. 

“Children are uniquely vulnerable with unique rights and protections and like with every war, they are paying the highest price. And failures of the international community to protect them – a legal duty – are driving up those costs at a speed and scale beyond any I’ve seen before. Even after four months, the UN’s highest decision-making body for international peace and security has been unable to do this.

“Children are being failed by the adults who should be protecting them. It’s beyond time for the adults in the room to step up their responsibilities and legal obligations to children caught up in a conflict they played no part in, who just want to be able to live.”