The Gaza Strip is experiencing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations reporting that nearly 80% of its population has been displaced. As of November 19, approximately 1.7 million Palestinians have been forced from their homes due to the Israeli bombardment and raids that have escalated over recent weeks. The displacement crisis in Gaza has reached a critical point, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres describing the situation as “unparalleled.”
UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) shelters are currently housing around 930,000 people, a figure that represents over three-quarters of Gaza’s population. These shelters are facing severe overcrowding, and health issues such as skin diseases and diarrhea have surged due to the cramped and unsanitary conditions. The lack of basic amenities is stark, with an average of one shower unit per 700 people and one toilet for every 160 people. In some areas, the situation is even more dire, with 400 people sharing a single toilet.
Guterres, in a recent press conference, expressed his deep concern over the civilian casualties and the scale of destruction in Gaza. According to the Palestinian government, the death toll in Gaza has reached at least 14,128, including a devastating number of children – at least 5,600. The health system in Gaza is on the brink of collapse, with only a fraction of hospitals still operational and a severe shortage of medical supplies.
The UNRWA’s efforts to provide aid are being hampered by Israel’s blockade, which has drastically reduced its capabilities. The blockade has led to a critical shortage of essentials like fuel, resulting in inadequate water and sanitation facilities. Over 100 UNRWA workers have tragically lost their lives since the onset of hostilities, marking this as the deadliest conflict for United Nations aid workers in history.
The water crisis in Gaza is particularly alarming. An Oxfam report highlights that water levels are at a mere 17 percent of pre-siege levels, and the fuel shortage has rendered water treatment and distribution virtually impossible. Many Gazans are left with access to less than a gallon of water per day, far below the international standard for basic human needs.
As the people of Gaza grapple with mass displacement and struggle to meet basic needs, they continue to face relentless bombardment from Israeli forces. Recent attacks have even targeted medical facilities, such as the shelling of al-Awda Hospital in Jabalia, which resulted in the death of three doctors and severe injuries to other staff members.
The international community has expressed growing concern over the situation in Gaza. Human rights organizations and experts have warned that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to ethnic cleansing. The continuous assault has not only led to a record number of civilian casualties but has also created a dire humanitarian situation that demands urgent international attention and action.
The UNRWA has called for immediate support to address the critical needs in Gaza. However, the ongoing conflict and the blockade have made it increasingly difficult to provide necessary aid. The situation in Gaza serves as a grim reminder of the devastating impact of prolonged conflict on civilian populations and the urgent need for a peaceful resolution.