The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said that it marked Monday, Nov. 20, World Children's Day in a "sombre mood" due to the killings of thousands of children in Gaza, urging a cease-fire.
"World Children's Day has generally been regarded as a day to celebrate the gains ... today, it, however, has become a day for mourning for the many children who have recently died in armed conflict," the committee said in a statement, noting that more than 4,600 children have been killed in Gaza in just the last five weeks.
"This war has claimed the lives of more children in a shorter time and with a level of brutality that we have not witnessed in recent decades," it stressed.
Reiterating its call for a cease-fire, the committee lamented that the UN Security Council has "not put its weight" behind that call, arguing that the "humanitarian pauses" suggested by some would not end the conflict.
"While the 15 November 2023 resolution of the Security Council calling for humanitarian pauses and corridors is a positive step by the international community, it does not end the war that is waging on children-it simply makes it possible for children to be saved from being killed on some days, but not on other days," it said.
In the bigger picture, the committee said that there are 468 million children worldwide living in armed conflict zones, citing figures from Save the Children, an international NGO.
It also expressed concern about thousands of children dying in armed conflict in many parts of the world, including Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Myanmar, Haiti, Sudan, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.
According to verified figures, the global figure of children killed or maimed was 8,630 in 2022, while up to 4,000 children were denied humanitarian access last year. Given the current situation in Gaza, the number of child victims of these "grave human rights violations" is rising "exponentially," said the UN committee.
"In the face of wars affecting children around the globe, we call again for ceasefires, for a return to the basics of humanitarian law, and for thorough investigations by competent authorities of all grave violations against children in the context of armed conflict," it urged.
Since Israel started bombarding Gaza on Oct. 7 following a Hamas attack, at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, including over 9,000 women and children, and more than 30,000 others have been injured, according to the latest figures by Palestinian authorities.
Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques and churches, have also been damaged or destroyed in Israel's relentless air and ground attacks on the besieged enclave.
An Israeli blockade has also cut Gaza off from fuel, electricity and water supplies, and reduced aid deliveries to a small trickle.
The Israeli death toll is around 1,200, according to official figures.