EU, UN officials decry Israeli evacuation order for Rafah as 'unacceptable' and 'inhumane'

AFP , Ahram Online , Monday 6 May 2024

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday said Israel’s evacuation order for Palestinians in Rafah is "unacceptable" as France said "the forced displacement of a civilian population constitutes a war crime."

Josep Borrell
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell attends a ministerial meeting held in Riyadh on April 29, 2024. AFP


"Israel's evacuation orders to civilians in Rafah portend the worst: more war and famine. It is unacceptable. Israel must renounce to a ground offensive," Borrell said, calling on Israel to "implement UN Security Council Resolution 2728," which demanded an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza during Ramadan.

“The EU, with the International Community, can and must act to prevent such scenario,” he added in the post on X (formerly Twitter).




Germany on Monday called on all parties to continue with negotiations towards a truce in Gaza shortly after Israel issued evacuation orders to Palestinians in eastern Rafah.

"The negotiations must not be jeopardised and all sides must make maximum efforts to ensure that the people in Gaza are supplied with humanitarian goods... and that the hostages are freed," a foreign ministry spokeswoman told a government press briefing.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday said Germany has been doing "everything we can for months to finally alleviate the immeasurable suffering of the people in Gaza".


France said on Monday it was "strongly opposed" to Israel's Rafah offensive, ahead of an expected ground assault in the southern city of the Gaza Strip.

"France reiterates that it is strongly opposed to an Israeli offensive on Rafah, where more than 1.3 million people are taking refuge in a situation of great distress," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The forced displacement of a civilian population constitutes a war crime."


Israel's order for Palestinians to evacuate from eastern Rafah in Gaza is "inhumane", the UN rights chief said Monday, with Israel widely expected to push ahead with an offensive into the city.

Volker Turk said forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee to areas with almost no access to aid for survival was "inconceivable" and warned that the offensive would push suffering and destruction beyond already "unbearable" levels.

"Gazans continue to be hit with bombs, disease, and even famine," the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights said in a statement.

"And today, they have been told that they must relocate yet again as Israeli military operations into Rafah scale up.

"This is inhumane. It runs contrary to the basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights laws, which have the effective protection of civilians as their overriding concern."

The statement said that "civilian deaths, suffering and destruction were set to increase beyond already unbearable levels."

UNICEF: No where for children to go!

There is ‘nowhere safe to go’ for the 600,000 children of Rafah, warned UNICEF in a statement on Monday shortly after the Israeli evacuation order for eastern Rafah was issued.

"With hundreds of thousands of children in Rafah injured, sick, malnourished, traumatized or living with a disability, UNICEF calls for children to not be forcibly relocated, and the vital infrastructure on which children rely to be protected."

With the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip continuing to deteriorate, UNICEF is warning that a military besiegement and ground incursion in Rafah would pose catastrophic risks to the 600,000 children currently taking shelter in the enclave. 

Following October evacuation orders to move to the south, it is estimated that there are now about 1.2 million people sheltering in Rafah, once home to about 250,000 people. As a result, Rafah (20,000 people per km2) is almost twice as densely populated as New York City (11,300 people per km2), and about half the population is children, many of whom have been displaced multiple times and are sheltering in tents or informal and unstable housing.

Given the high concentration of children in Rafah – including many who are highly vulnerable and at the edge of survival – as well as the likely intensity of the violence, with potential evacuation corridors likely mined or littered with unexploded ordnance; and shelter and services in areas for relocation very likely to be limited – UNICEF is warning of a further catastrophe for children, with military operations resulting in very high civilian casualties and the few remaining basic services and infrastructure they need to survive being totally destroyed.

“More than 200 days of war have taken an unimaginable toll on the lives of children,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director. “Rafah is now a city of children, who have nowhere safe to go in Gaza. If a large scale military operations start, not only will children be at risk from the violence, but also from chaos and panic, and at a time where their physical and mental states are already weakened.”

Read the full statement here

Earlier in the day, the Israeli army said it ordered the evacuation of 100,000 people from eastern Rafah, ahead of an expected ground assault in the southern city of Gaza.

About 1.2 million people are currently sheltering in Rafah, according to the World Health Organization, most having fled there from elsewhere in Gaza during the seven-month Israeli war on the strip.

Various world capitals and international organizations have warned that an assault on the densely populated city would have catastrophic consequences for a civilian population on the verge of starvation.

Short link: