‘Defies Description’ – UN Official Says War Has Dispossessed Gazans of Means to Survive

Palestinian families are forced to evacuate the eastern and southern areas of Rafah. (Photo: via QNN)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Guimond, UN Women’s Special Representative for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, spoke at a UN press conference after returning from a one-week mission inside Gaza.

After nearly nine months of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, the Palestinian population has been almost entirely dispossessed of the means to ensure food security, shelter, health and livelihood, a UN official has said.

“The population has been almost entirely dispossessed of the means and capacities to ensure food security, shelter, health, and livelihood,” said Maryse Guimond, UN Women’s Special Representative for the Occupied Palestinian Territory on Friday. “Women were asking me, ‘When can we go back to our homes?’ Each displacement has brought more loss and fear.”

Guimond spoke at a UN press conference after returning from a one-week mission inside Gaza.

“What I have seen defies description,” Guimond said, according to the Anadolu news agency. “The moment you enter at the Kerem Shalom crossing, and the fence closes behind you, you feel locked into a world of devastation.

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She described homes, hospitals, schools, universities, day care centers as having been demolished.

“As you move toward the middle area, you see crowds of people – men, women, and children – in makeshift tents, trapped in a world of scarcity.”

Guimond said more than one million people in Gaza are in constant displacement, moving to any available open space, including roads, agricultural land, and damaged buildings.

She saw people “crammed” into makeshift shelters and lacking even the most basic essentials.

At one school-turned-shelter run by the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), there are only 25 toilets for the 14,000 people seeking safety inside the compound and the 59,000 others camping outside, she noted.

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‘Story of Loss’

Every woman she met had a story of loss, and more than 6,000 families lost their mothers, reported UN News.

“One million women and girls have lost their dignity, their homes, their families, their memories,” said Guimond. “It is crucial to protect the rights and dignity of the people of Gaza, especially women and girls, who have borne the brunt of this war.”

At the same press conference, Dr Rik Peeperkorn from the UN World Health Organization reported that the enclave’s health workers, obstetricians and doctors now treat far higher levels of low birthweight babies than before the war.

“We see a lot of preterm babies and low birthweight babies and you see that often in times of conflicts, war…but we even had the stories where women were going when they had access to the hospital would ask for an early Caesarean to make sure that they deliver and deliver safely,” he said.

This is “because they were completely unclear and they were scared about the access, if they would be able to access the hospital later, because of the volatile security situation and the constantly changing situation.”

He said beyond the risks of giving birth in Gaza today is that “there is hardly any antenatal care”.

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Chronic Health Conditions

The WHO medic also highlighted the “amazing” amount of trauma cases, amputees and patients with chronic health conditions who urgently need to be evacuated out of the enclave for treatment.

Since October 7, roughly 4,800 patients have been evacuated out of medical necessity from Gaza, most to Egypt and elsewhere in the region, UN News reported.

But “at least another 10,000 patients” now need specialist treatment outside the enclave, Dr Peeperkorn said.

Half of the patients “related to the war and half of them related to what we call the chronic diseases: …cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases, including severe mental health cases”.

Peeperkorn appealed for the reopening of Rafah border crossing in the south of the enclave, or for nearby Kerem Shalom to be used instead.

‘Threat to Health’ – UNRWA Says 67% of Water, Sanitation Infrastructure Destroyed in Gaza 

Staggering Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,431 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,653 wounded. Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(PC, Anadolu)

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