Briefing Notes- Press Briefing- Office of the UN Secretary General- Juliette TOUMA, UNRWA Director of Communications/ Amman, Jordan

28 May 2024

More than 1 million have fled Rafah only in the past three weeks (since 6 May). The displacement continues including today.

People in Rafah have been displaced several times already.  

Heavy bombardment continued overnight in the area including in Tal Al Sultan (north of Rafah) where the UN main offices in Gaza are. 

Most of our staff could not make it to work today. They are packing up and moving. They are terrified. People are fleeing to Al-Mawasi and the middle areas including Deir Al-Balah which are already crammed and crowded.

On humanitarian supplies: just over 200 trucks with humanitarian supplies were picked up in the last three weeks as people’s humanitarian needs continue to immensely increase. 

This is due to several factors:

  • Heavy movement restrictions,
  • ongoing Israeli Forces airstrikes and the expansion of the military operation,
  • Recent launch of rockets by Hamas, delays and limitations on the routes that can be used.
  • Fuel coming in by far not enough to support the humanitarian operation. 

UNRWA is running out of medical supplies and basic medicines. 

There is little to no electricity with very patchy internet as the telecommunications network continues to be interrupted. 

And people continue to move, in search for safety that they never find. Because no place is safe in Gaza and no one is safe or spared.  

The UNRWA Commissioner General has just issued a statement on his official X account (previously known as Twitter) where he described the situation in Gaza as “An endless horror show, except it’s real”. He added: “Two million people are living in a hellhole. This is Gaza at the world’s watch”.  

I spoke to our teams in Gaza today several times.

The aftermath of the harrowing attack on Sunday on the displacement site is huge. Among those reported killed in that attack were women and children.

The attack added to their fear of death. People are seeing so much death around them.

A colleague who recently returned from Gaza told me: “people are dying inside. Everywhere they look, there is death and it’s as if people have accepted that death is their fate”.

One colleague who has moved this morning from Rafah to Al-Mawasi after debating for weeks now asked: “What’s the point of moving yet again if I’m going to be killed anyway?”.

It is a chance here to pay tribute to all UNRWA team members who were killed since the war began: there are 192 of them to date. One colleague killed is one colleague too many and the Agency will never be the same without them.

In closing: UNRWA reiterates the call of the UN Secretary-General for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages to end the suffering of civilians.

UNRWA echoes the Secretary General’s dismay by the lack of implementation of the recent order of the International Court of Justice regarding Rafah.

The decisions of the Court are binding.

The military operation in Rafah must immediately end and the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza must improve without further delay.

Thank you


Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

Your support is crucial to help us provide emergency aid 
to displaced families in Gaza

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