‘Shocking increase’ of children denied aid in conflicts: UN

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES  -  A growing number of children caught up in armed conflicts around the globe are being denied access to critical humanitarian aid, a United Nations offi­cial warned Wednesday, as relief operations come under attack or are blocked by governments.

The last report by the UN secretary-general on the rights of children in conflicts, published in June 2023, recorded nearly 4,000 confirmed cas­es of aid being denied to children, from Gaza to Ye­men, Afghanistan and Mali.

“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 Security Council Wednesday. She said last year’s figure already represented an “ex­ponential” increase since 2019. “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,” Gamba said. She did not specify which countries would be sin­gled out in the 2024 report, set to be released this summer. Nearly half of the cases in last year’s re­port -- 1,861 -- were of Israeli forces denying aid to children in Gaza. That report came before the Octo­ber 7 attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel and the ensuing all-out war in Gaza.

The UN has since repeatedly denounced restric­tions Israel has put on aid entering the war-torn territory. “As a result of these constraints, children cannot access age-appropriate nutritious food or medical services and have less than two to three li­ters of water per day,” UNICEF deputy executive di­rector Ted Chaiban told the Council. “The conse­quences have been clear,” Chaiban said, noting that one in three children in northern Gaza under two years old suffer from acute malnutrition, “a figure that has more than doubled in the last two months.”

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