Middle East, Europe

Majority of Rafah's 600,000 children face injury, illness, malnutrition, trauma, disabilities: UN

UNICEF warns potential ground operation to Rafah will bring 'catastrophe on top of catastrophe'

Merve Aydogan  | 03.05.2024 - Update : 03.05.2024
Majority of Rafah's 600,000 children face injury, illness, malnutrition, trauma, disabilities: UN


The UN on Friday issued a stark warning on the potential consequences of a ground operation in the Gaza city of Rafah, emphasizing the grave threat it poses to the lives of some 600,000 children in the region.

Citing reports from UNICEF, the UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq at a news conference said a military operation into Rafah "would bring catastrophe on top of catastrophe" for the children there.

Echoing UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell's sentiments that emphasized the dire conditions faced by the children of Rafah, Haq said "nearly all of the some 600,000 children in Rafah are either injured, sick, malnourished, traumatized, or living with disabilities."

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) underscored the precarious state of healthcare facilities in Rafah, revealing that three out of the 12 hospitals in Gaza that are still partially functioning are located in the region.

WHO warned that these facilities "will quickly become non-functional if there's a military incursion into Rafah, and then a full scale military operation into Rafah could lead to a bloodbath," Haq said.

He also stated that the convoy carrying humanitarian aid from Jordan was attacked by "civilians" in the occupied West Bank, and some items were damaged. Haq noted that the convoy later reached Gaza.

Saying that upon convoy's arrival to Gaza it was redirected to a different facility instead of the previously designated location by an armed group, Haq said this issue was addressed through discussions with local authorities to resolve the misunderstanding.

Haq expressed confirmation of the local authorities' respect for humanitarian aid convoys, stating that the convoys reached their destinations and that aid distribution was ongoing.

Emphasizing that the redirection to a different facility was purely a communication error, he said it was promptly corrected, adding that officials in Gaza confirmed that such incidents would not recur.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Israeli settlers attacked two aid convoys from Jordan who were on their way to Gaza.

"Two Jordanian aid convoys carrying food, flour, and other humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip were attacked by settlers," the ministry said.

The aid convoys were the first major shipment from Jordan into the Erez crossing, which was reopened for the first time by Israel since Oct. 7 after months of pressure from the US.

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