Sunday, February 25, 2024

UN official warns Gaza has become a ‘human chessboard’

Gemma Connell, with the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, has described Gaza as a "human chessboard" in which thousands of people, displaced many times already, are on the run again while there is no guarantee a destination will be safe.

Connell described what she had seen at the Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza on Monday as “absolute carnage”.

Many severely injured people could not be treated because the hospital was “absolutely overloaded”, she said.

“People were heading up south with mattresses and all of their belongings in vans and in trucks and in cars in order to try and find somewhere safe,” stated Connell, who on Monday visited the Deir al-Balah neighbourhood in central Gaza.

“I’ve spoken to many people. There’s so little space left here in Rafah that people just don’t know where they will go and it really feels like people being moved around a human chessboard because there’s an evacuation order somewhere,” she added.

“People flee that area into another area. But they’re not safe there,” noted Connell, team leader for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, killing at least 20,700 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

The Israeli onslaught has left Gaza in ruins, with half of the coastal territory’s housing damaged or destroyed and nearly 2 million people displaced within the densely populated enclave amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicines.

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