The United Nations has raised significant concerns about the increasing density of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Gaza Strip. This comes as the Israeli military expands its operations into central and southern Gaza, leading to a surge in displacement.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported a massive influx of at least 100,000 IDPs into Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, following intensified hostilities in Khan Younis and Deir Al Balah, and evacuation orders from the Israeli army.
Rafah, already the most densely populated area in Gaza with over 12,000 people per square kilometer, is witnessing an unprecedented rise in its population density. The situation is similarly critical in Deir Al Balah, where evacuation orders have directed residents to move to shelters that are already overcrowded, hosting several hundred thousand IDPs.
The true extent of displacement caused by these orders remains unclear.
Health Crisis Amidst Conflict
The displacement crisis is exacerbating health concerns in the region. The World Health Organization has reported a significant spread of diseases in Gaza, particularly due to the recent mass displacements.
Families who have been forced to move multiple times face an increased risk of health issues. The statistics are alarming: close to 180,000 people in shelters are suffering from upper respiratory infections; there are over 136,400 cases of diarrhea, with half of these among children under five; 55,400 cases of lice and scabies; 42,700 cases of skin rash; and outbreaks of jaundice and meningitis.
OCHA highlights that the lack of food, basic survival items, and poor hygiene are exacerbating the living conditions of IDPs, amplifying protection and mental health issues, and increasing the spread of disease.
Continued Israeli Military Actions
Despite the growing humanitarian crisis, the OCHA reports that the Israeli military continues its campaign in southern Gaza, targeting multiple locations in Khan Younis and Rafah.
Airstrikes and missiles have struck housing units and infrastructure, reportedly resulting in high numbers of fatalities in areas to which Palestinians have relocated. Israel has urged residents in various parts of Gaza to evacuate, but the UN warns that many have nowhere to go.
CNN analysis found that Israel has struck at least three locations in Gaza that it had previously ordered civilians to evacuate to since the war began in October.