Gaza humanitarian update - UNRWA 06 May 2024
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Edited News | UNRWA

Gaza humanitarian update - UNRWA 6 May 2024

Fear spreading in Rafah amid reports of imminent Israeli military intervention

Amid reports that some Palestinians have begun to leave Rafah ahead of an anticipated Israeli military operation in Gaza’s southernmost city, UN humanitarians on Monday insisted that they had no intention of quitting the vital aid hub.

“There was really a lot of hope over the last days that there would be a ceasefire. So, we're genuinely devastated to wake up today and have the reality that is the leaflet drop and you know, reports of evacuations beginning,” said Louise Wateridge, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

In an alert on X on Monday, UNRWA warned that an Israeli offensive in Rafah would mean more civilian suffering and deaths. “The consequences would be devastating for 1.4 million people,” the UN agency said, before insisting that it is “not evacuating: the agency will maintain a presence in Rafah as long as possible and will continue providing lifesaving aid to people.”

Speaking from Rafah on Monday morning to UN News, Ms. Wateridge insisted that there was “nowhere to go” for Gazans in the Strip’s southernmost city. Panic is taking hold too, she noted:

“Nobody has a clear path where to go, there is no advice on where to go, there is no safety to be led to. So, in each circumstance, in each family now it's a lot of panic and a lot of chaos, because even though we're hearing the evacuation orders are confined to a small area in Rafah, middle east of Rafah, you can imagine as people start to move, the panic is going to spread. Already outside the window here we're in more central Rafah, people are beginning to take down shelters and leave.”

According to media reports, leaflet drops by the Israeli military above eastern Rafah advised communities to move to the so-called safe zone of Al Mawasi, to the west of Rafah, by the Mediterranean Sea.

UN humanitarians have previously rejected similar evacuation initiatives by the Israeli military on the grounds that they represent forced displacement.   “Al Mawasi is quite a concentrated area already and doesn't have the infrastructure in place to be hosting thousands and thousands more displaced people,” Ms. Wateridge said. “So it's not really an option if and when people move or decide to move to that area, there's not a lot waiting there for them.”

More than 400,000 people already shelter in the coastal location, according to the UN agency’s latest assessment, which reported an influx of displaced persons from nearby city of Khan Younis. To help them, UNRWA has two temporary health centres in Al Mawasi, along with other newly established medical points in the area.

“Unlike claims (to the contrary), it is far from safe, because nowhere is safe in Gaza,” insisted UNRWA Communications Director Juliette Touma, on Monday.

Echoing the UNRWA alert, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also warned that a military siege and incursion in Rafah “would pose catastrophic risks to the 600,000 children” sheltering there.

Many “are highly vulnerable and at the edge of survival”, the UN agency said in a statement, highlighting increased violence in Rafah and the fact that potential evacuation corridors were “likely mined or littered with unexploded ordnance”.

Any military move on Rafah will likely result in very high civilian casualties while also destroying “the few remaining basic services and infrastructure” that people need to survive, UNICEF maintained.

“Hundreds of thousands of children who are now cramped into Rafah are injured, sick, malnourished, traumatized, or living with disabilities,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Many have been displaced multiple times, and have lost homes, parents and loved ones. They need to be protected along with the remaining services that they rely on, including medical facilities and shelter.”

In a related development, the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that northern Gaza is now experiencing “full-blown famine…and it’s moving its way south”.

Cindy McCain’s remarks on Sunday echoed serious and repeated concerns from other senior UN officials and the international community about aid restrictions and delays imposed by Israeli authorities.

Although more commercial food is reportedly available on the market in around Jabalia city in northern Gaza, UNRWA’s Ms. Wateridge insisted that “outside of that, there are pockets and areas in north Gaza where even the United Nations have not been able to reach, other humanitarian agencies have not been able to reach, and the situation for people there is just devastating”.

Rocket attacks on Kerem Shalom crossing at the weekend reportedly killed three Israeli soldiers, leading to its closure. It would be a massive blow for the humanitarian operation if the same thing happened to Rafah, Ms. Wateridge insisted: “The Rafah border crossing is the biggest and really only feasible place that we have been getting aid in. So, if military operations happen here at the border that is going to impact our ability to bring in aid, to bring in supplies.”

Since 7 October when Hamas-led terror attacks on southern Israel prompted massive Israeli bombardment and a ground offensive, at least 34,680 Palestinians have been killed – including over 14,000 children - and over 78,000 wounded, according to the Gazan health authorities. Some 1,250 people were killed in southern Israeli communities and more than 250 were taken hostage.

ends

STORY: Gaza humanitarian update – UNRWA

TRT: 3’10”

SOURCE: UNTV CH 

RESTRICTIONS: NONE 

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS 

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 / 9:16

DATELINE: 6 May 2024 Rafah, Gaza

SHOTLIST

  1. Exterior med shot: UN flag alley  

2.       SOUNDBITE (English) - Louise Wateridge, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, from Rafah: “There was really a lot of hope over the last days that there would be a ceasefire. So we're genuinely devastated to wake up today and have the reality that is the leaflet drop and you know, reports of evacuations beginning.”

3.       Wide, tented stalls and shelters in Rafah, bare earth, puddles.

4.       SOUNDBITE (English) - Louise Wateridge, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, from Rafah: “There's nowhere to go. Nobody has a clear path where to go, there is no advice on where to go, there is no safety to be led to. So, in each circumstance, in each family now it's a lot of panic and a lot of chaos, because even though we're hearing the evacuation orders are confined to a small area in Rafah, middle east of Rafah, you can imagine as people start to move, the panic is going to spread. Already outside the window here we're in more central Rafah, people are beginning to take down shelters and leave.”

5.       Wide (vertical): young children walking towards tented shelters with rubbish scattered widely down a sandy bank.

6.       Louise Wateridge, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, from Rafah: “Al Mawasi is quite a concentrated area already and doesn't have the infrastructure in place to be, you know, hosting thousands and thousands more displaced people. So it's not really an option if and when people move or decide to move to that area, there's not a lot waiting there for them.”

7.       Wide (vertical): a lot of rubbish and waste left in a sandy hollow next to tented shelters.

8.       Louise Wateridge, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, from Rafah: “The Rafah border crossing is the biggest and really only feasible place that we have been getting aid in. So, if military operations happen here at the border that is going to impact our ability to bring in aid, to bring in supplies.”

9.       Wide (vertical): children stoking a small outdoor oven in front of tented shelters.

10.   Louise Wateridge, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, from Rafah: “There's been more commercial food on the market in around Jabalia which is really promising to see. But of course, there are pockets away from Jabalia; Jabalia is one place, it’s one city where you know the commercial market is more open, but outside of that there are pockets and areas in north Gaza where even the United Nations have not been able to reach, other humanitarian agencies have not been able to reach, and the situation for people there is just devastating.”

11.   Wide (vertical): an earth road with puddles and people walking, tented shelters either side.

12.   Medium (vertical): a boy walks in front of the camera, barefoot.

13.   Wide (vertical): a man cycles through a large puddle covering a road with people massed to rear.

Wide (vertical


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