Reuters has reported quoting the UN which has been told by the Israeli military that some 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza should relocate to the enclave’s south within the next 24 hours. “The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement “The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” he said.
“No aid can come in from the outside for the 2.3 million residents of the sealed-off enclave, and some 220,000 displaced people are sheltering in schools run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees,” a report posted on UN website quoted United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as saying.
The UN has issued an emergency appeal for 294 million dollars to address “the most urgent needs” in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, where more than 400,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in recent days. The funds would be used to help more than 1.2 million people, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, adding that recent fighting in the region had left aid groups without adequate resources.
Media reports in American, British and Middle Eastern newspapers reported the Israeli bombing had left more than 1790 Palestinians, including 500 children, dead with death toll continuously climbing.
Israel started relentless bombing after Hamas militants staged a stunning attack, killing 1200 Israeli civilians on October 7.
Israel has imposed a siege of Gaza Strip, denying delivery of food, fuel, electricity and water. It has mobilized more than 360,000 reservists, amassed thousands of troops on Gaza border with increasing signs of a ground invasion.
Stocks depleting fast
“Humanitarians are continuing to support Gaza’s population as best they can”. The UN World Food Program (WFP) said that together with UNRWA it delivered fresh bread from “bakeries still able to operate” and food to over 175,000 displaced people across 88 shelters on Wednesday (October 11), with plans to “reach over 800,000 people across Palestine”.
The humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA) reported that mass displacement has been continuing, increasing by 30 per cent in just the previous 24 hours, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, briefing reporters in New York.
This brings the cumulative figure to more than 338,000, “of whom over two thirds are taking shelter in schools run by UNRWA”, the UN Relief and Works Agency, he added. Nearly 218,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) are sheltering in 92 of their schools.
In Gaza, hundreds of thousands of people are living without food, water & essential supplies.@WFP‘s emergency operations could provide a vital lifeline to 800,000+ people, but borders must be kept open & protected.
— United Nations (@UN) October 12, 2023
“What is unfolding is already an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy. Whatever the circumstances are, rules apply in times of conflict and this one is no exception. Aid to civilians who have nowhere to flee must be immediate: water, food, medicine,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “It is of utmost urgency that access to humanitarian assistance and protection be upheld for all civilians,” he added.
“To keep our life-saving work in Gaza and throughout the region ongoing and to remain a lifeline for millions of Palestine Refugees across the region, I appeal to UNRWA’s donors and partners to scale up their financial support,” said Commissioner-General Lazzarini.
The UN said more than 2,500 units of housing have been destroyed or severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable, while nearly 23,000 others have sustained moderate to minor damage.
“At least 88 education facilities have been struck, including 18 UNRWA schools, two of which were used as emergency shelters for displaced people, as well as 70 Palestinian Authority schools,” the UN added.
“This means that for the sixth consecutive day, more than 600,000 children have had no access to education in a safe place in Gaza”, said the Spokesperson.
Meanwhile, WFP stressed that its food assistance stocks were running out and called for urgent aid access.
More humanitarians killed
UNRWA further announced on Thursday that 12 of its personnel have been killed since 7 October in the Gaza Strip.
The UN agency wrote on social platform X, “we mourn this loss and are grieving with our colleagues and the families”, reiterating that “UN staff and civilians must be protected at all times.”
Hospitals have just a few hours of electricity each day and are being forced to ration depleting fuel reserves to sustain just “the most critical functions” in overcrowded treatment areas.
Acute shortages of medial supplies are compounding the crisis, limiting the response capacity, WHO added.
Rights experts call for hostages release
UN-appointed independent rights experts on Thursday added their voice to calls for Hamas to release people taken hostage during its attack on Israel – while also calling for the targeting of civilians in the Palestinian enclave to stop.
The experts, who include Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, called for urgent accountability for the “horrific crimes committed by Hamas”.
The rights experts also condemned Israel’s “indiscriminate” attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza and a further tightening of the “unlawful blockade” against the enclave.
No water. No fuel. No electricity. No assistance. No escape from the bombing.
Aid freezes risk further punishing Palestinian civilians who are already facing unprecedented repression and violence.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) October 13, 2023
“There is no justification for violence that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces. This is absolutely prohibited under international law and amounts to a war crime,” the experts said.
The rights experts warned of a severe humanitarian crisis in the enclave and of the “inescapable risk of starvation” faced by its population, adding that “intentional starvation is a crime against humanity”.
According to media reports on Thursday, the current conflict, which is expected to escalate further, has claimed at least 2,400 lives. More than 100 Israelis and foreign nationals, including children and older persons, are being held hostage in Gaza.
A water crisis is worsening across Gaza and in UNRWA emergency shelters “due to damaged infrastructure, lack of electricity needed to operate pumps and desalination plants, as well as limited supply of water in the local market”, Mr. Dujarric said.
“Water supplies cannot be replenished due to the total blockade on the Strip by the Israelis authorities. Fuel cannot be brought in, and Israeli water suppliers can no longer deliver water in Gaza.”
The UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency UNFPA said late on Thursday that it is “deeply concerned” for the safety and wellbeing of women and girls who have been caught up in the violence in Gaza.
Gaza is home to 50,000 pregnant women, who are currently unable to access essential health services. Some 5,500 of these women are due to give birth in the coming month.
Dozens of births a day imminent
That is equal to 166 births per day, taking place with inadequate access to healthcare or even clean water, the agency said.
“UNFPA is prepositioning supplies to be ready to deliver if siege conditions are lifted. We have provided medicines essential for safe delivery to the health authorities in Gaza and we are providing dignity kits to UNRWA shelters.”
One agency staff member based inside Gaza and continuing to provide services, spoke for many UN workers caught up in the violence along with hundreds of thousands of civilians, noting that “my only goal is to breathe. To stay alive.”