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More children killed in Gaza over 6 months than in all world conflicts in 4 years — UNRWA

Philippe Lazzarini pointed out that it is very difficult to get precise figures under war situation

MOSCOW, April 28. /TASS/. The number of children killed in the Gaza Strip over the past six months is shocking, Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told TASS in an exclusive interview.

He pointed out that it is very difficult to get precise figures under war situation. "But I do believe that the amount being published (by the Palestinian Health Ministry that the death toll in Gaza exceeded 34,000 - TASS) gives a reasonably good idea of the scale of the number of people who have been killed in Gaza. And this is horrible," Lazzarini said.

"It's unprecedented when you think that in six months more than 30,000 people have been killed. We know that among them there are 13,000 children. We know that there were more children killed in Gaza in six months than in all the conflicts across the world in the last four years," the UNRWA chief said. "So, it's unprecedented in scale, as well as the level of destruction," he emphasized.

"Today, if I look at the number of employees killed within UNRWA (in the Gaza Strip - TASS), 180, and I compare this to the total number of staff we have, 13,000, and then I look at the number of people killed within the broader Gaza population, next we compare it to the overall population, and we will have more or less the same type of proportion. So, I think the proportion in this case is certainly something, which unfortunately sounds possible," Lazzarini noted.

When asked if it was safe to say that the 34,000 figure was not an overestimate, he said that the data "is certainly at this scale, the number of people who have been killed." "And I'm not even sure that this number captures all those who are still under the rubble, because most of the time the number of people dead are reported and recorded through hospital facilities," the UN agency chief said. "So, I would say that the proportion given unfortunately might be close to the reality. It could even be higher or could be in disproportion. And I do believe that it's not an overestimate," he concluded.


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was established on December 8, 1949. As the situation in Palestine remains unresolved, the agency's mandate continues to be expanded. To date, the agency provides assistance to some 5.9 million people. About one-third live in 58 officially recognized camps in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The rest live in or near host towns, often not far from official camps. The agency is headed by a commissioner-general appointed by the UN secretary-general.·In late January, several countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, announced the suspension of UNRWA funding because of suspected links to the radical Palestinian movement Hamas. Lazzarini ordered the dismissal of several employees who may have been involved in a Hamas militant attack on Israel in the fall. The agency later accused Israel of torturing captured employees to extract "false confessions" of links to the radical movement. A report released on April 23 by an independent UN evaluation team on UNRWA's activities stated that Israeli authorities have so far failed to provide any evidence to support their accusations.