Once again, nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road, having been forced to flee since the Israeli Forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May. 

18 May 2024

From Philippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA Commissioner-General as posted on his official X account (previously known as Twitter)

Once again, nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road, having been forced to flee since the Israeli Forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May.  

In response to evacuation orders demanding people to flee to so-called safe zones, people mainly went to the middle areas and Khan Younis including to destroyed buildings. 

Since the war in #Gaza began, Palestinians have been forced to flee multiple times in search of safety that they have never found including in @UNRWA shelters. 

When people move, they are exposed, without safe passage or protection. 

Every time, they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have:  mattresses, tents, cooking utensils and basic supplies that they cannot carry or pay to transport.  

Every time, they have to start from scratch, all over again.  

The areas that people are fleeing to now do not have safe water supplies or sanitation facilities.  

Al-Mawassi -as one example- is a sandy 14 square kilometre agricultural land, where people are left out in the open with little to no buildings or roads. It lacks the minimal conditions to provide emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe and dignified manner. Before the recent escalation, the area was home to more than 400,000 people. The place is crammed and cannot absorb more people as is also the case for Deir al Balah, in the middle areas.  

The claim that people in Gaza can move to “safe” or “humanitarian” zones is false. Each time, it puts the lives of civilians at serious risk.

Gaza does not have any safe zones.  

No place is safe.  

No one is safe.  

The situation is again being made far worse by the lack of aid and basic humanitarian supplies.  

The humanitarian community does not have any more supplies to give out, including food and other basic items.  

The key crossings into Gaza remain closed or unsafe to access as they are located near or in combat zones.  

Aid distribution is almost impossible without regular fuel imports, unstable telecommunication and the ongoing military operation.  

Since 6 May, only 33 aid trucks made it through to southern Gaza. This is a small trickle amid the growing humanitarian needs and mass displacement.  

While we welcome reports on first shipments arriving at the new floating dock, land routes remain the most viable, effective, efficient and safest aid delivery method.

The crossings must re-open and be safe to access.  Without the re-opening of these routes, the deprivation of assistance and catastrophic humanitarian conditions will persist. 

The obligations on all parties to the conflict including the State of Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups  are clear:    

· Rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need, wherever they may be, is essential and must be allowed and facilitated.  

· The displaced population must have access to basic survival items, including food, water, and shelter, as well as hygiene, health, assistance and above all safety.   

· Humanitarian relief teams need  safe and free movement to access those in need of assistance and protection wherever they may be.

·  It is the obligation of parties to the conflict to protect civilians and civilian objects everywhere.  

Above all, it is time to agree on a ceasefire.  

Any further escalation in the fighting will only wreak more havoc on civilians and make it impossible to finally have the peace and stability that Israelis and Palestinians desperately need and deserve.

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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