UNICEF: 600,000 children in Rafah at risk of a ‘new imminent disaster’

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday warned that the Israeli military siege and ground incursion into Rafah would pose catastrophic risks to the 600,000 children currently taking shelter in the city.

“Given the high concentration of children in Rafah – including many who are highly vulnerable and at the edge of survival – as well as the likely intensity of the violence, with potential evacuation corridors likely mined or littered with unexploded ordnance; and shelter and services in areas for relocation very likely to be limited – UNICEF is warning of a further catastrophe for children,” the rights group said in a statement.

The organisation added that Israeli military operations often result in very high civilian casualties while the few remaining basic services and infrastructure civilians need to survive had been totally destroyed.

“Rafah is now a city of children, who have nowhere safe to go in Gaza. If large-scale military operations start, not only will children be at risk from the violence, but also from chaos and panic, and at a time where their physical and mental states are already weakened,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF executive director.

UNICEF, once again called for a ceasefire, stressing the presence of about 78,000 infants under two years of age and about 175,000 children under five years of age with nine in ten of them affected by one or more infectious diseases.

Rafah is home to more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians who have taken refuge from the war launched by Israel in October 2023.

The displaced people face miserable conditions inside thousands of tents spread throughout the city. Even pavements are crowded with tents, and the main roads have turned into crowded markets.

Yesterday, Israel ordered 100,000 Palestinians in eastern Rafah to flee the area ahead of a planned ground invasion.

(Source: MEMO)