Palestinian doctor Marwan Abu Sada works in Shifa hospital in Gaza City May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

What is the current situation in Gaza?

As of October 24, 2023, the situation in Gaza remains dire:

1. Civilian Casualties: More than two weeks of relentless bombardments have resulted in a death toll of 5,791 in the Gaza Strip, including 2,360 children. Numerous bodies are believed to be trapped under the rubble.

2. Housing Destruction: Approximately 43% of all housing units in Gaza have been either destroyed or damaged since the conflict began, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

3. Targeted Infrastructure: Schools, hospitals, and mosques, often used as shelters or places for medical treatment, are being bombed.

4. Critical Shortages: Fuel, food, and water are running critically low. Many bakeries have shut down due to lack of fuel, leading to food rationing. Water availability has drastically reduced to about three litres per person per day, far below the WHO-recommended 100 litres.

5. Health Risks: People are resorting to unsafe water sources, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases. Medicine shortages and poor sanitation conditions have led to reported cases of diseases like chickenpox, scabies, and diarrhoea.

6. Fear and Panic: Civilians in Gaza live in constant fear and panic, especially children whose mental health and wellbeing are severely impacted by the ongoing violence.

7. Forced Displacement: On October 13, the Israeli army ordered over 1 million people, half the population, to leave northern Gaza within 24 hours, a move considered forcible transfer and illegal under international law.

8. Displacement Crisis: Approximately 1.4 million people are displaced, with over 580,000 seeking refuge in UN-run emergency shelters, facing increasingly dire conditions.

9. No Safe Zones: Despite assurances of safety in the south, Israel continues to attack areas with high civilian populations like Khan Younis and Rafah, leaving nowhere truly safe in Gaza.

10. Siege Continues: Israel’s blockade on Gaza persists, severely limiting the entry of aid. Although the Rafah crossing has opened partially, the number of aid trucks falls far short of what is needed. Fuel remains excluded from the items allowed into Gaza.

NRC Response:

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is providing emergency cash assistance to help people purchase essential supplies. Additionally, NRC is prepared to offer further aid, including shelter, psychological support for children, and water, hygiene, and sanitation supplies.

Demands: NRC, alongside other humanitarian organizations, calls for:

1. Cessation of Hostilities: Immediate cessation of hostilities to prevent further civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. Humanitarian pauses are crucial to allow aid delivery and pave the way for a lasting ceasefire.

2. End of Siege: Lift the siege on Gaza. Essential resources like water, food, and medicine are running out. The deliberate deprivation of these necessities constitutes a grave humanitarian crisis. Dehydration and waterborne diseases pose significant threats, especially to children drinking contaminated water.

3. Civilian Protection: Protect civilians. Continued airstrikes, even in densely populated areas, exacerbate the risks faced by Gazan residents. Israel must prioritize civilian safety.

4. Hostage Release: Release all hostages held by armed groups in Gaza, including hundreds of Israeli civilians. They are powerless in this conflict and should be freed unconditionally.

5. Adherence to International Law: Uphold international humanitarian law, particularly concerning civilian protection, in the conflict. The international community must advocate for these laws’ strict adherence.

6. Rafah Crossing Access: Keep the Rafah crossing open and increase the flow of life-saving aid into Gaza. Israel must not use the basic survival needs of Gazans as bargaining chips. Introduce humanitarian corridors to ensure aid reaches those in need.

Source: NRC media


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