On-the-record update #3 on situation in Gaza, Palestine

Published 13. Jun 2024
Media update from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on the latest situation in Gaza, Thursday 13 June 2024

An update from Suze van Meegen, NRC’s head of operations who recently left Gaza:

“We have all become so accustomed to images of brutality and destruction in Gaza that is has now become dangerously normalised. It is not normal for a whole population to live in constant fear and with overwhelming grief. It is not normal to feel your safety is at greater risk in a school or hospital than elsewhere. It is not normal for a community to bury hundreds of people each week.

“Even after more than eight months of violence, there was absolutely nothing normal about the scale and ferocity of attacks on civilians in Gaza’s Middle Area last week. When more than a million people fled Rafah last month, this is the zone to which many came for safety. This is the last resort. Much of this area is ostensibly a safe haven for civilians and the humanitarian organisations attempting to alleviate the sharpest edges of suffering. Parties to this conflict share responsibility for protecting civilians.

“The use of a unilaterally declared “humanitarian zone” as a battleground last week betrays any suggestion of civilian protection or respect for humanitarian space.

“The capacity of humanitarian organisations to deliver even the paltriest assistance is now completely diminished; to claim otherwise is disingenuous and does a gross disservice to the people whose right to survival and dignity are not being upheld. The whole humanitarian community has been gaslit into celebrating the tiniest plaster for a population with countless open wounds. Member states and donors have a clear view of burning tents, blown-up hospitals and blocked crossings. It is absurd to speak to humanitarian actors about realigning budgets, upscaling the response and ensuring use of logos while we have so little support to protect humanitarian space.

“While civilians in Gaza spend a nineth month waiting for a political solution, members states and donors must also help facilitate humanitarian ones. We were never to be a panacea for this crisis, but we must be allowed to mitigate the worst of it with absolute guarantees for the safety of our operations, a functioning bank system, a regular fuel pipeline, and all land crossings open – at the same time - for sufficient quantities of humanitarian cargo.

Latest updates from NRC teams in Gaza:

  • Around half of Gaza’s population has been displaced this month following Israel's expansion of operations in Rafah and calls for people residing in certain areas to ‘evacuate’.
  • Approximately 1 million Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah since Israel announced operations there earlier this month. A further 100,000 have been displaced due to hostilities in northern Gaza as well.
  • NRC has not received relief items to its warehouse in the Middle Area since 3 May.
  • The humanitarian response south of Wadi Gaza has nearly come to a halt due to escalating security concerns, supply shortages, and coordination challenges for humanitarian organisations. As needs continue to grow, the capacity of humanitarians to respond is diminishing.
  • The coastal road from Al-Mawasi to the Middle Area is clogged with people and vehicles carrying household items and personal belongings. Many have moved to central Khan Younis, causing extreme congestion and turning a journey from Deir al-Balah into a two-hour ordeal due to the overcrowded conditions.
  • The cost of transport has surged six-fold, making it difficult for many to afford relocation. Displaced individuals often arrive in new towns with nowhere to go, forcing them to create makeshift shelters wherever they can find space.
  • The accumulation of solid waste is becoming a critical problem, contributing to the rise in Hepatitis A cases.
  • Fuel supplies are still unpredictable and inadequate, with priority given to health facilities, bakeries, and water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities.
  • June usually marks the end of the school year, but for children in Gaza, it marked an entire year of learning loss, with schools closed and formal education suspended since 7 October.
  • The crisis has resulted in an increasing number of separated and unaccompanied children, adding to the more than 19,000 children orphaned in the last eight months.

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