Senior UNICEF director calls Gaza a 'graveyard for children'

As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to claim the lives of many children, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF told NHK, "Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children."

Kitty van der Heijden spoke with NHK during her visit to Tokyo on Monday and called on the international community to work towards an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

She noted that the "true cost of this war that started on and since the seventh of October will be measured by the number of lives lost of children, and the lives that have been changed forever."

Hamas' surprise attack on Israel last month and the Israeli military's offensive in the Gaza Strip have resulted in the deaths of thousands of children.

Van der Heijden said the situation is extremely dire and catastrophic. She added that Gaza needs immediate access to UNICEF's humanitarian supplies, including water, fuel, medicine and mental health support.

The senior UNICEF director said, "Children never start conflicts, but children are powerless to stop conflicts. We have to stop the violence to enable children not just to survive, but to thrive."

She added, "The longer we wait, the more violence that occurs, the more children will be harmed and the deeper the mental trauma will settle into their soul."

November 20 marks World Children's Day as mandated by the United Nations. Van der Heijden stressed that children around the world are being affected by conflicts, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

She called on the need to provide child rights to every child around the world.