GAZA: Families fleeing Rafah say they are being ‘killed slowly’ as forced to move again

The UN has said more than 360,000 Palestinians have now fled Rafah to other areas in the Gaza Strip amid ongoing relocation orders.

Israeli bombardment from the air, land, and sea continuing to be reported across much of the Gaza Strip with fighting intensifying. Vital supplies like fuel, medicine, and other aid, are running out in Gaza with the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings closed since 5 May.

The Health Cluster has warned that the immediate resumption of fuel supplies into Gaza is an urgent priority to keep alive what remains of Gaza’s decimated health system, with life-saving health services at a near standstill.

A Save the Children staff member said:

“This is the fifth time we have been forced to move, following the new relocation orders. We were first displaced from Gaza to Khan Younis, then to different areas in Rafah, and now to Deir Al-Balah. This is destroying us mentally. I have a son with me, and my mother who is 70 years old. Every time we start to get used to a place, we are forced to move again.

“My mother has diabetes and high blood pressure. She’s lacking the medication she needs but we can’t find it anywhere. It feels like we are being killed slowly. Our children are missing out on their life, education, they are experiencing lack of stability, forced displacement, fear. I can’t explain what it feels like living through this for the fifth time. We are paying the price for a war that we have nothing to do with.”

Medical staff at Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit in Al-Mawasi have been treating children who have been wounded from airstrikes in the Israeli-designated “humanitarian zones”, such as Deir Al-Balah.

Lara,* 2, sustained horrific injuries to her face, torso, and leg during an airstrike in Deir Al-Balah that also killed her aunt – an area that is supposedly part of the safe area where people have been ordered to go. When her family relocated to Al Mawasi shortly after the attack, she was brought to a field hospital where Save the Children is providing healthcare services for children.

Dr John Lawrence, Save the Children’s paediatric surgeon working in the field hospital in Al-Mawasi, said Save the Children’s paediatric surgical team operated on Lara* but need to closely monitor her infected wound:

“Just after the attack, Lara was transported to a medical facility in Deir Al-Balah where her injuries were treated without anaesthetic. Now she’s here in Al-Mawasi, Lara will be cared for in our paediatric in-patient ward. It’s inconceivable to discharge Lara while she still has open wounds. The dire living conditions in Al-Mawasi and the extreme lack of clean water and sanitation facilities are too risky for children like Lara.

“Lara always has a family member with her in the hospital and we’re encouraged by the progress she’s making. However, the scars on her face will be a permanent reminder of the unspeakable trauma she has endured.”

Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory Xavier Joubert said:

“Some families have now been displaced more than five times in seven months. People who have survived the war so far in Gaza are exhausted, depleted, and despairing.

“We were running out of words to describe the scale of horror facing children already in October, and yet here we are, still trying to find a way to describe how atrocious this war is and how badly children are being harmed – physically and mentally. As we’ve said before, there is nothing humanitarian about these “humanitarian” zones and there is nothing safe about these relocation orders. How many times do we have to repeat ourselves before member states act?”

Save the Children is calling for an immediate, definitive ceasefire to protect the lives of children in Gaza. All crossings into Gaza – the only lifeline for families – must be reopened, and unimpeded humanitarian access guaranteed across the Strip.  All States must pressure the Government of Israel to stop its offensive in Rafah, and they must immediately halt the transfer of weapons, parts, and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups while there is a risk they are used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Save the Children has been providing essential services and support to Palestinian children since 1953. Save the Children is taking steps to support and protect its staff and continue helping children and families across Gaza, constantly monitoring the situation in Rafah to see if and when it will continue its operations. 

/Public Release. View in full here.