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Worsening conflict in Gaza leaves children at particular risk, UNICEF warns

1 March 2008 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today voiced its deep concern at the escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip, warning both Israel and the Palestinians to “take all feasible measures” to ensure the protection and care of children caught up in the violence.

Since the current upsurge in fighting began on Wednesday, at least 17 children from Gaza have been killed and more than 200 others injured, UNICEF said in a statement, quoting figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry.

UNICEF noted that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also expressed his deep concern in recent days at civilian deaths in both Gaza and southern Israel and issued a call for maximum restraint from all sides.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child puts an emphasis on the need to take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict,” the UNICEF statement said. “In addition to being its direct casualties, the terrifying impact of this conflict affects all children.

“Children constitute more than half the population of Gaza and are bearing the brunt of the crisis. They are already suffering severely from a series of restrictions, including the blockade on most goods imposed since June 2007.”

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