‘Unspeakable Conditions’ – UNRWA Says One Million Forced to Flee Rafah

A scene from a displacement camp in Rafah, in southern Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“Thousands of families now shelter in damaged & destroyed facilities in Khan Younis.”

More than one million Palestinians have been forced to flee Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip due to Israel’s ongoing military assault on the enclave, according to the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

“Forced displacement has pushed over 1 million people away from Rafah,” UNRWA said on X on Monday. “Thousands of families now shelter in damaged & destroyed facilities in Khan Younis.”

Despite “increasing challenges” the agency said, it “keeps providing essential services” amidst conditions that “are unspeakable.”

Rafah housed more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians before Israel’s ground invasion began on May 6. Many had already fled their homes in areas across the besieged enclave which was attacked by Israeli forces.

All UNRWA Shelters Empty

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini emphasized that “more than 1 million – most displaced several times- (are) forced to flee once again, in search of safety that they never find.”

He said: “All of our 36 UNRWA shelters in Rafah are empty now. This is where people seek shelter & should be protected at all times under the UN flag.”

Lazzarni also highlighted that dire humanitarian situation in the enclave saying UNRWA “was allowed to pick up just under 450 trucks in the past 3 weeks in support of the humanitarian operation.”

“This is nothing in the face of the needs: at least 600 trucks/day of commercial, fuel & humanitarian supplies,” he stressed.

Fuel is running short, he said, adding “our teams are standing by to pick it up when the Israeli Authorities give the green light.”

The agency said that as people continue to be forcibly displaced, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that “around 18,500 pregnant women have fled Rafah.”

“Around 10,000 more remain there in desperate conditions. Access to healthcare & maternal supplies is minimal. Mothers’ and babies’ health is at risk.”

Death and Devastation

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, 36,439 Palestinians have been killed, and 82,627 wounded. Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

‘Unprecedented Health Emergency’ – UNRWA Warns of Critical Situation in Gaza 

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.

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’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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