Khan Yunis a ghost town with children living amid rubble, Save the Children says

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A view of a destroyed building after Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis, Gaza on March 29, 2024. [Ahmed Zaqout – Anadolu Agency

Children are living amid rubble in streets of total devastation in Khan Yunis, the second largest city in Gaza, according to Save the Children staff returning to the city for the first time since the war started over six months ago.

Prior to 7 October, the city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip had a population of more than 200,000 people, including about 100,000 children.

Now Khan Yunis “is a ghost town”, the charity said, with people returning in small numbers to protect what remains of their properties or retrieve belongings while lone children roam the streets seeking water and other supplies. Media have recently reported that satellite pictures show rows of tents on a site to the west of Khan Yunis.

After visiting the city, Sacha Myers, a Save the Children spokesperson, said: “I actually felt physically sick – my body’s reaction to seeing this absolute brutality, for this total disregard for human life.”

“I’ve been to a lot of warzones and disasters, but I’ve never been in a situation where as far as the eye can see, every building is rubble.

In some conflicts, you will see devastation, but there are gaps between damage and buildings still standing. Here – you turn 360 degrees – every single building is either severely damaged or rubble on the ground. And not just one or two streets, but dozens of streets. It’s everywhere.”   

Israel’s ongoing bombing campaign in Gaza has left over 17,000 orphans, many with no remaining family. Myers said: “I was also struck by the numbers of lone children. You are driving through what feels like an empty street and then suddenly you see children climbing out of the rubble… It was eerie and terrible to see so many children by themselves, knowing how dangerous it is to be in those collapsed and semi collapsed buildings.”

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Disclaimer: Khan Yunis a ghost town with children living amid rubble, Save the Children says - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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