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344 children born in UNRWA shelters during Israeli assault

Aug. 14, 2014 5:41 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 16, 2014 11:11 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- UNRWA vehicles generally tend to carry aid or supplies, but this time the car belonging to the UN's Palestine refugee agency was crowded with women and new-born babies.

The women and their children were being taken to attend a ceremony where they would be given a hygiene kit of milk and diapers to take care of the newborns.

Among the attendees were just some of the 344 Palestinian babies who have begun their lives as internally displaced persons in UNRWA schools across Gaza, according to the agency.

A Ma'an reporter at the ceremony said that many of the attendees came dressed in their Muslim prayer dress, unable to find other clothes to wear, and some of the mothers had not been able to find any baby clothes for their newborn children amid the devastation across Gaza.

A mother from the Abu Adwan family told Ma'an that her house was bombed only hours before she gave birth to her baby daughter Ghadir.

"We ran to the (UNRWA) school just I was about to give birth," she recounted.

"I was hysterical and frightened. I went into labor and they took me to a hospital to give birth there," she added.

"But the tragedy began when we went back to the school."

"My joy was incomplete," she said, noting the terrible conditions in the shelters for displaced persons. "I could not find a place to shower; I would wet a towel and use it instead."

"The same for Ghadir. Neglect and lack of hygiene are clear on her neck."

At the height of the Israeli assault at the beginning of the August, around 485,000 Gazans were displaced from their homes, or around one-third of the total population of besieged coastal enclave. More than half of these were in UN schools that were re-purposed as shelters.

UNRWA said on Wednesday that 370,000 people were still displaced, and the homes of at least 100,000 people were unlivable, having been destroyed or severely damaged.

The mother from the Abu Adwan family said that the families are still crowded in one classroom in the school, a situation that was very uncomfortable for her as a mother who had just given birth. She said that she could not sleep and was nervous all the time.

She added that the classroom was not clean, and that the flies and smell was "unbearable."

"I did not have the nutrition I needed after giving birth," she added.

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