UN reports 90% of Gazans displaced amid ongoing evacuations

In World
July 09, 2024


UN humanitarians said on Monday 90 percent of Gazans were displaced, some multiple times, as more evacuations ordered and poor or no security hampers aid and fuel deliveries.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Israeli military instructed on Sunday and Monday tens of thousands of people living in 19 blocs of apartments in Gaza City to evacuate immediately. On Sunday, some residents were ordered to evacuate to western Gaza City, while the order on Monday included areas that people had fled to a day earlier and instructed them to evacuate to shelters in Deir al Balah.

“The two directly affected areas encompass 13 health facilities that were recently functional, including two hospitals, two primary healthcare centers and nine medical points,” OCHA said, adding that 13 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are only partially functional.

The office said that with nine out of every 10 people estimated to be displaced in Gaza, new waves of displacement are mainly affecting people who have already been displaced multiple times, only to find themselves forced to flee again under shelling. They were forced to reset their lives repeatedly without any of their belongings or any prospect of finding safety or reliable access to essential services.

“People, especially children, spend long hours queueing to collect water each day,” OCHA said. “Access to emergency health care is also a challenge, particularly given limited communications coverage to contact emergency services, high transportation costs to reach hospitals (26 U.S. dollars roundtrip) and the long walking distance of at least 3 kilometers to reach the nearest medical point.”

In northern Gaza, the aid partners especially highlighted the lack of safe shelters for up to 80,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who were forced to hastily flee from Shuja’iyeh and other parts of eastern Gaza City following evacuation orders in late June. Many were found sleeping amid solid waste and rubble, with no mattresses or enough clothing, and some had sought shelter in partially destroyed UN facilities and residential buildings.

The Israeli military designated these same areas as evacuation zones, forcing many of the same families, including young children and the elderly, to go through successive waves of displacement over the past two weeks, the office said.

OCHA said that insecurity, damaged roads, the breakdown of law and order, and access limitations continue to hamper movement along the main humanitarian cargo route between Kerem Shalom crossing and Khan Younis and Deir al Balah.

“This has resulted in critical shortages of fuel and aid commodities to sustain humanitarian operations, in addition to increasing the risk of spoilage and infestation of stranded supplies (especially food) due to extremely high temperatures,” the office said.

The humanitarians said the Food Security Sector (FSS) reports that the shortages forced partners to provide reduced food rations in central and southern Gaza in June and undermined their ability to keep bakeries and community kitchens running.

According to OCHA, only seven out of the 18 bakeries supported by humanitarian partners remain operational in Gaza, all in Deir al Balah, and six bakeries already working at partial capacity have now been forced to completely cease operations due to the lack of fuel.

The office said that in the absence of cooking gas and a stable flow of food supplies, community kitchens are also struggling to operate, resulting in a reduced number of cooked meals prepared throughout Gaza. As of the end of June, about 600,000 cooked meals prepared in 190 kitchens were distributed daily to families across the strip, compared to more than 700,000 in the first half of June.

OCHA said it meant that displaced households rely on burning wood and plastic from furniture and waste to cook, exacerbating health risks and environmental hazards.

As for cooking, humanitarian partners said they continue to distribute wheat flour and canned food that enter northern Gaza through the Erez West crossing. No commercial trucks have been entering the area for months.

A joint assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Satellite Centre estimated that about 57 percent of Gaza’s cropland and one-third of its greenhouses were damaged.

The FSS reported a near-total lack of protein sources, such as meat and poultry, on the local market, and only a few types of locally produced vegetables are available at unaffordable prices.

The sector reported that continued military operations in Rafah and recent displacement from eastern Khan Younis, where significant agricultural production was concentrated before the war, have resulted in additional damage to greenhouses. It forced more people to leave their farms unattended, further destabilizing food systems.

OCHA said that on Friday, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported that its teams at Nasser Medical Complex were “running on emergency medical stocks” and all departments were overwhelmed by patients, far exceeding available bed capacity.

MSF said the Nasser Medical Complex is the main site on which field hospitals rely to sterilize their equipment, and if the facility is left without electricity, several field hospitals will also cease functioning.

It said the hospital has been unable to bring any medical supplies into Gaza since the end of April, including most recently on Wednesday when the Israeli authorities denied trucks carrying MSF medical aid entry into the Gaza Strip due to ongoing hostilities.

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