OPINION - I have never seen anything like this — babies are dying in Gaza and we need a ceasefire now

[object Object] (AFP via Getty Images)
[object Object] (AFP via Getty Images)

Never, in all of my 20 years working in the charity sector, have I witnessed a more desperate humanitarian situation than the one that is unfolding in Gaza right now.

As I write, the al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza has reportedly run out of fuel. With no electricity for incubators, the lives of almost 40 premature babies hang by a thread and tragically, some are reported to have died already.

The situation in Gaza gets worse by the day. More than 11,100 Palestinians have been reportedly killed, including 4,609 children — that’s over 400 children killed or injured every day since the hostilities began. In addition, around 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals have lost their lives, including at least 33 children, and according to Israeli military authorities 239 people remain in captivity within Gaza.

Amid the death and destruction, life quite literally goes on, with 180 women giving birth each day — many in the streets amid the rubble.

For the sake of all children, whether Israeli or Palestinian, this conflict must end now.

Unicef has delivered supplies and medicines to hospitals, but given the number of injuries, hospital beds and essential medicines — including anaesthetics — are quickly running out.

The delivery of aid is now a matter of life or death for children. Gaza’s one million children aren’t able to get enough clean water, with water production in the strip operating at a mere five per cent of its usual daily output. Unicef has worked to keep the only functioning desalination plant in the Gaza Strip running, but without fuel, it will soon stop functioning.

Scores of my colleagues have also been killed — the largest number of UN fatalities ever recorded in a comparable timeframe.

Amid such tragedy and devastation, it is crucial that agencies, such as ours, can provide humanitarian assistance safely and consistently.

The need for an immediate ceasefire is getting more urgent by the hour.

For the sake of all children, whether Israeli or Palestinian, this conflict must end now. More than anything, there needs to be a lasting political solution so that these children can grow up in peace and free from the shadow of violence.

Jon Sparkes OBE is chief executive of the UK Committee for Unicef (Unicef UK)