UN says relocating Palestinian refugee agency to south Gaza

AFP , Friday 13 Oct 2023

The United Nations announced Friday its agency for Palestinian refugees is moving operations and foreign staff to southern Gaza, following an Israel army evacuation order condemned by the global body.

Palestinians with their belongings flee to safer areas in Gaza City after Israeli air strikes, on October 13, 2023. AFP


"UNRWA relocated its central operations centre and international staff to the south to continue its humanitarian operations and support to its staff and Palestine Refugees in Gaza," the agency wrote on Twitter, rebranded X.

The move comes after the Israeli military gave around 1.1 million Gazans 24 hours to flee from the north of the Palestinian territory.

The UN said such a population transfer in such a timescale is "impossible" and urged Israel to rescind the order.

"The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, said on Thursday.

He told AFP that the UN "strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation."

Israel's army said it has called for all Gaza City residents to evacuate their homes and head south of the territory "for their safety".

Dujarric said the army's evacuation order applies to all UN staff and those sheltering in UN facilities -- including schools, health centers and clinics.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) is sheltering more than 60 percent of the 423,000 people displaced in recent days in the Gaza Strip.

It was not immediately clear how many people were currently located north of Wadi Gaza.

Israel has been reeling since an October 7 attack, when Hamas militants killed more than 1,200 people and took about 150 captive.

In a grisly retaliation, Israel has rained air and artillery strikes on Gaza -- a densely populated enclave of 2.3 million people -- flattening buildings and killing more than 1,400 people, many of them civilians.

A Security Council meeting on the conflict has been called for Friday.

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