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ICRC raises alarm over Gaza humanitarian crisis

ICRC raises alarm over Gaza humanitarian crisis
6 May 2024 08:32

SHABAN BILAL (GAZA, CAIRO)

Over 1.3 million displaced individuals residing in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah are enduring severe humanitarian conditions, with the shadow of an imminent Israeli invasion adding to their misery, said Hisham Muhanna, the spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza.

In statements to Aletihad, Muhanna said that hundreds of thousands of the displaced are deprived of basic services, such as electricity, clean water, food, and medicine. The harsh weather only compounds their despair, as they live in the shadow of escalating airstrikes and the threat of a wide-scale military operation, he added.

The situation is intensified by the limited humanitarian support, which falls short of the Gaza Strip’s actual needs, the ICRC official said, noting that everyone is awaiting a ceasefire or humanitarian truce, even as fears of a large-scale military operation loom, threatening further forced displacement.

Muhanna urged immediate action to enable humanitarian workers to carry on a real humanitarian response and called for the safeguarding of civilians, hospitals, their staff, patients, and medical teams. He warned all parties and the international community of the dire consequences of increasing military operations in Rafah, and stressed the necessity of protecting civilians under these circumstances.

He also pointed out that international humanitarian law forbids forced displacement, the use of human shields, and indiscriminate attacks that lead to civilian casualties and disproportionate destruction of infrastructure. Muhanna said the conditions, especially for the displaced in Rafah, fleeing the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, are inhumane.

The humanitarian crisis is deepening, Muhanna emphasised, as the displaced grapple with extreme heat, disease outbreaks, and insect infestations, intensified by inadequate waste management and sewage treatment. “The health system in the sector is deteriorating with limited humanitarian support,” Muhanna said. “Despite the increase in aid trucks allowed to enter, they only represent a drop in the ocean of humanitarian needs in the sector.”

He noted the inadequacy of the remaining operational hospitals to handle the influx of the wounded, along with those suffering from common, chronic, and cancer-related illnesses who remain untreated.

Muhanna spoke about the suffering of children, giving an example of a newborn who died days after her mother was killed in an airstrike and he also conveyed the anguish of thousands of families unable to retrieve their loved ones from the rubble of destroyed homes.

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