UN says women and children are main victims of Gaza war, 16,000 killed

United Nations (AP) - Women and children are the main victims of the Gaza war, which has killed nearly 16,000 people and an estimated two mothers every hour since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, gender equality promoters said. The United Nations agency said on Friday.

UN Women said that as a result of more than 100 days of conflict, at least 3,000 women may have become widows and heads of households and at least 10,000 children may have lost their fathers.

In a report released on Friday, the agency pointed to gender inequality and its burden women are running Fighting and frequent displacement of children. It said 1.9 million of the region's population of 2.3 million are displaced and there are "nearly one million women and girls" seeking shelter and protection.

Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women, said it was "a brutal reversal" of the 15 years of fighting that preceded the Hamas attack on October 7. He previously said, of all civilians killed in Gaza and the West Bank, 67% were men and less than 14% were women.

He reiterated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' call for a humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate release of all hostages held in Israel on 7 October.

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"No matter how much we mourn the situation of Gaza's women and girls today, we will mourn even more tomorrow without unrestricted humanitarian assistance and an end to the destruction and killing," Bahous said in a statement accompanying the report.

“These women and girls are deprived of safety, medical care, health care and shelter. They face imminent starvation and famine. Most of all they are deprived of hope and justice,” she said.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says about 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, 70% of them women and children. The UN says more than half a million people in Gaza – a quarter of the population – are dying of hunger,

About 1,200 people were killed in Israel during this period. 7 October attack A battle broke out with Hamas and about 250 people were taken hostage by the terrorists. More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held in Gaza.

Bahous said UN Women had heard "shocking accounts" unconscious sexual violence during attacks by Hamas, and he reiterated the United Nations' call for accountability, justice and support for all affected people.

The agency said that despite increasing hostilities in Gaza, women-led and women's rights organizations are continuing to work. It found that 83% of women's organizations surveyed in the Gaza Strip are at least partially operational, primarily focusing on emergency response to the war.

But UN Women said an analysis of funding from last year's flash appeal for Gaza found that only 0.09% of funding went directly to national or local women's rights organizations.

Bahous said more aid is needed to reach Gaza, especially women and children, and end the war.

"This is a time for peace," he said. “We owe it to all Israeli and Palestinian women and girls. This is not their struggle. They won’t have to pay the price now.”

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