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UNICEF: 373,000 Gazan children had traumatic experiences

GENEVA (AA) - The United Nations children's fund, UNICEF said on Tuesday that 373,000 children in Gaza have had traumatic experiences as a result of Israeli military operations and need urgent psychological support. "Children are showing symptoms of increasing distress, including bed-wetting, clinging to parents and nightmares," said Pernille Ironside, chief of the UNICEF office in Gaza, speaking at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva via teleconference. Thousands of children require direct and specialized support as a result of ongoing hostilities, she says. Between 8 July and 4 August at least 392 Palestinian children were reported killed as a result of airstrikes and shelling by Israel aerial, naval and ground forces, UNICEF indicated. Half of Gaza's 1.8 million people are children under the age of 18 and children make up 31 percent of the civilian casualties. Noting that many Gazans have not had access to water for several weeks, Ironside said drinking-water sources had become contaminated by sewage and that this could potentially lead to diarrhea and further deaths of children, particularly those under the age of five.

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