UNRWA suspends aid operations in Rafah citing insecurity

Ahram Online , Tuesday 21 May 2024

The UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Tuesday that it is suspending food distribution in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, due to a shortage of supplies and security concerns.

damaged schools in Rafah
Photo shows Palestinian families living among rubble in damaged schools, lacking tents, essential services vital supplies in Rafah. No place is safe in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA


After evacuation orders from Rafah, the population in UNRWA facilities in Khan Younis alone has surged by 36 percent.

UNRWA reported that "families are living among rubble in damaged schools, without tents, essential services, or vital supplies. No place is safe in the Gaza Strip."

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on Gaza this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands from their homes and severely restricted the flow of aid, increasing the risk of famine.

"Only 7 out of 24 UNRWA health centers are operational. Over the last ten days, they have not received any medical supplies due to the closures of Rafah and [Karm Abu Salem] crossings," UNRWA posted on X.

Israel launched a new offensive in central Gaza on Monday, bombarding towns in the north of the Palestinian enclave and announcing plans to broaden operations in Rafah despite US warnings of the risk of mass casualties in the southern city.

Early on Tuesday, the UN described the famine conditions in Gaza as a "catastrophe, nightmare, hell on earth, and worse."

"We are running out of words to describe what is happening in Gaza," Edem Wosornu of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told a Security Council meeting on Monday.

"We have described it as a catastrophe, a nightmare, as hell on earth. It is all of these, and worse," she said of the conditions in the besieged territory of 2.4 million people.

Wosornu stated that "1.1 million people face catastrophic levels of hunger, and Gaza remains on the brink of famine" while three-quarters of its population have been forcibly displaced, some up to five times.

Since 7 October, the brutal Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip has killed at least 35,647 people, 70 percent of them women and children, and wounded at least 79,852 more, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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