Stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Statement of the ESCAP Board:
Stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza – Ensuring the basic needs of children

As child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists, we are specialists in development. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has described all the basic needs of children in its articles.

Basic Need

UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child

Love and acceptance

Preamble, Art. 6; Art. 12, 13, 14

Nutrition and care Art. 27, Art. 26, Art. 32
Integrity, protection from danger, from material, emotional and sexual exploitation

Art. 16, Art. 19,
Art. 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40

Attachment and social relationships

Art. 8, 9, 10, 11;
Art. 20, 21, 22

Health Art. 23, 24, 25, 33
Knowledge and education

Art. 17; Art. 28, 29, 30, 31

It is with great sadness that we observe how children run in search of water and food and have no protection from danger. In science, Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970) used the image of the pyramid of needs to illustrate that basic, physiological needs such as food and drink, the need for security and social relationships are fundamental to us all.

As the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip now threatens epidemics according to the WHO and basic living and health needs can no longer be guaranteed, the foundation is missing. Not only for the survival of children and young people who were born victims of a conflict in this region, but also for their educational opportunities and mental health, which are massively jeopardized in the long term by potentially traumatizing conditions. This is how a new round of the cycle of violence is created. We fully support the WHO’s call for the protection of humanitarian space in Gaza issued on Tuesday (12/12/2023).

We believe it is important to unambiguously make it clear that the current humanitarian crisis will have long-term consequences for individual development. Basic needs must be guaranteed immediately! We call for immediate and long-term psychological support for children and families in the area and for a durable political solution with peace for children, no matter what nationality their parents are.

On the 75th anniversary of Human Rights Day, the ESCAP Board unanimously adopted this position for the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

We emphatically urge the parties to the conflict as well as the international community to immediately restore the basic needs of children and young people and thus enable a new beginning in the hope of a safer and more peaceful future.

Unfortunately, the demand to guarantee human rights is as justified today as it was 75 years ago when the international community agreed on the declaration. At the moment the children and the population in the Gaza Strip are taken as hostages and are victims of the retaliation against the terrorists. There are also still children among the hostages held by Hamas. Naturally, we renew our appeal for the release of all hostages.

Jörg Fegert, ESCAP President
On behalf of the ESCAP Board: Dimitris Anagnostopoulos, Andrea Danese, Maja Drobnič Radobuljac, Stephan Eliez, Manon Hillegers, Pieter Hoekstra, Enikő Kiss, Paul Klauser, Konstantinos Kotsis, Anne-Marie Råberg Christensen, Carmen Schröder

14 December 2023