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UNRWA says more than 600,000 people are under evacuation orders in southern Gaza
Women bake bread surrounded by destroyed buildings in Khan Yunis, Gaza during the recent humanitarian pause. Photo Courtesy: UNRWA/Ashraf Amra

UNRWA says more than 600,000 people are under evacuation orders in southern Gaza

| @indiablooms | 06 Dec 2023, 03:16 pm

A top UN official has said over 600,000 people are under evacuation orders in southern Gaza amid the ongoing clash between Israel and Hamas members.

"Southern #Gaza over 600,000 people are under evacuation orders. Nearly half of them were already forced to leave their homes previously," Philippe Lazzarini posted on X.

"There is nowhere to go as shelters, including @UNRWA, are beyond & over their capacity," he said.

The situation for Gazans is “getting worse by the hour”, the UN health agency WHO said on Tuesday (December 5, 2023), after some of the heaviest Israeli shelling in the enclave since Hamas militants massacred some 1,200 people in southern Israel and took around 240 hostages on 7 October.

Speaking from the southern city of Rafah, Dr. Rick Peeperkorn, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, described further bloodshed after the resumption of Israeli bombing last Friday.

“The situation is getting worse by the hour,”. Peeperkorn told journalists in Geneva via video link. “I mean…there’s intensified bombing going on all around and including here in the southern areas, Khan Younis and even in Rafah.”

The WHO medic noted that in the last couple of days there had also been “a vastly increasing number” of internally displaced people travelling from the Middle area “and even now the southern areas”, fearing for their lives.

Echoing those concerns, UN Children’s Fund spokesperson James Elder cited international humanitarian law that obliges militaries to “take all feasible measures” to protect civilians. It was not acceptable to unilaterally declare that they should go to “so-called safe zones”, he insisted, when these were in fact “sidewalks” or “half-built buildings” without water, shelter or sanitation.

“It’s not a safe zone if it’s only free from bombardment, as some zones have not been,” Elder said.

8 in 10 Gazans now homeless

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA, nearly 1.9 million people – more than 85 per cent of the population in Gaza - have been displaced across the Strip since 7 October.

Almost 1.2 million internally displaced persons have found shelter in 156 UNRWA installations across all five governorates of the Gaza Strip, including the North and Gaza City, the UN agency said.

It also confirmed that at least 19 additional colleagues had been killed during airstrikes, bringing the total to 130 since 7 October. “We are also in danger as we walk,” UNWRA said, quoting one of its counsellors, named only as Jehan. “Our lives are at a standstill…There is the smell of death here. But we’re determined to live.”

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