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Aid agencies warn of catastrophic humanitarian consequences of looming Rafah ground invasion

ACFID 2 mins read

Media release | Monday, 12 February 2024

The peak body for Australia’s humanitarian and development sector, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), is extremely concerned about the impending ground assault of Rafah, and the disastrous humanitarian consequences that it will cause. 

Since October 7th, over a million Palestinians have fled to Rafah, a city in the southern end of the Gaza strip, which borders Egypt. This includes over 600,000 children, packed into an area less than a fifth of the total land mass of Gaza, due to previous evacuation orders.

“For months on end, Palestinian civilians have been pushed further and further south to Rafah, a promised “safe zone”. Now the Israeli Defence Force is proposing an invasion of the area. There is nowhere to go in Gaza, no safe place to avoid indiscriminate bombardment,” said ACFID’s Chief Executive Officer, Marc Purcell. 

“A full-scale incursion of Rafah will be a bloodbath and the world cannot let this go ahead. Forcing the over one million displaced civilians in Rafah to again evacuate with no safe place to go will have catastrophic humanitarian consequences.”

Prior to the latest outbreak of hostilities, the city of Rafah was home to less than 300,000 people. Currently, 1.4 million people inhabit the area and face shortages of food, water, fuel, medicines and shelter. According to the United Nations, a quarter of the population is facing starvation.  Meanwhile, there are reports of air attacks occurring in Rafah, killing at least 44 civillians. 

On January 26th, the International Court of Justice ordered provisional measures in South Africa’s case alleging that Israel is violating the Genocide conventions. Those measures require Israel to take all “reasonable measures” to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance, and prevent and punish incitement to commit genocide.

“ACFID reiterates calls for the Australian Government to work with all parties to enforce the International Court of Justice provisional measures so that unimpeded humanitarian assistance can finally reach Gaza,” said Mr Purcell. 

ACFID continues to call on the government to restore funding to UNRWA, to be judicious and discriminate between allegations against a small number of individuals and remember the foreseeable impact of defunding UNRWA on millions of Palestinians reliant on their services, including children.

ACFID continues to advocate for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and for breaches of international humanitarian law to be urgently investigated. 

For more information, contact Georgie Moore 0477 779 928

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