Over half of Gaza Strip's population displaced due to Israeli attacks, UN says

Over half of Gaza Strip's population displaced due to Israeli attacks, UN says
The UN's OCHA relief agency said that 60 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip had been displaced by Israel's ferocious air campaign against the besieged enclave
3 min read
21 October, 2023
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have had to take shelter in UNRWA schools [Getty]

At least 60 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip has been displaced as a result of Israel's fierce and indiscriminate bombing campaign against the besieged Palestinian enclave, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“About 1.6 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes since the start of the current Hamas-Israel bloody conflict 15 days ago,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a press statement. 

The OCHA said that there were now 544,000 people in 147 educational districts and schools affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), including 367,500 in central and southern Gaza alone, and 70,000 in 67 schools not affiliated with UNRWA.

According to the statement, about 101,000 people took refuge in an Orthodox Christian centre, churches in Gaza City, hospitals, and other public buildings.

In addition, the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development estimates that there are about 700,000 displaced people who have taken shelter in private homes.

The statement stated that the overcrowding of the UNRWA Educational Operations Department has increased in the central and southern regions of the Gaza Strip at a time when there was a severe shortage of basic resources such as water, food, and medicine.

In some educational districts, UNRWA was forced to ration drinking water, providing only one litre of water per person per day.

Overcrowding and lack of basic supplies have raised tensions among internally displaced people, along with reports of gender-based violence.

On October 19, UNRWA established the first camp for internally displaced people in Khan Yunis, consisting of 60 tents and hosting hundreds of internally displaced people.

The statement indicated that there is anecdotal evidence that some displaced people are returning to the northern Gaza Strip due to the ongoing bombing in the south of the territory, which Israel ordered 1.1 million Palestinian civilians to move to, and also because of an inability to find reasonable accommodation.

The displacement of civilians and the associated lack of access to the basic necessities of life have raised concerns for the most vulnerable people, including children, the elderly, those in need of medical care, people with disabilities, and pregnant women.

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It is feared that they will be exposed to psychological and social distress, conflict and tension among internally displaced people, deprivation of access to information, and the possibility of abuse or exploitation.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army announced that its air forces attacked the Gaza Strip during the past two weeks as it had not attacked in decades, indicating that "the war on Gaza will continue for some weeks".

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the total number of Palestinian deaths has risen to 4,137 and the wounded to more than 13,000, about half of whom are women and children.

The Ministry reported that it had reports of more than 1,200 Palestinians missing, most under the rubble of destroyed residential neighborhoods in various areas of the Gaza Strip.