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'Stain on intl. community': Top aid worker 'shocked' by catastrophic humanitarian condition in Rafah visit

A Palestinian child sits amid debris of buildings destroyed during Israeli strikes in Gaza City, on February 26, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

The head of a Norway-based NGO has been “shocked” after witnessing the catastrophic humanitarian conditions in Rafah in southern Gaza, caused by the Israeli regime’s months-long genocidal war on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Visiting a school sheltering some 4,500 displaced Palestinian who fled Gaza City in the north of the territory and nearby Khan Yunis, Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), in a post published on X platform on Wednesday expressed his dismay at the living conditions they were enduring.

“The disabled, the pregnant and the newborn share 18 latrines with 4500 others. Malnutrition, epidemic disease and trauma is everywhere,” Egeland wrote.

Shocked by conditions at this school in Rafah, #Gaza. 4500 here come from Gaza City, Khan Younis etc. The disabled, the pregnant and the newborn share18 latrines with 4500 others. Malnutrition, epidemic disease and trauma is everywhere. NRC providing all the aid we can get in.

— Jan Egeland (@NRC_Egeland) February 28, 2024

Egeland slammed Israel and its allies for carrying out a relentless onslaught against the besieged civilian population of Gaza and called it “a stain on an international community” which has failed to secure any kind of restraint or humanitarian access.

“People are traumatized beyond belief and live under the most horrific condition,” he called the situation in Gaza in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

In an earlier post from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, Egeland said hundreds of aid trucks were waiting to travel into the Palestinian territory to help “a starving civilian population”. “The system is broken,” he said of the process involved in allowing aid into Gaza. “Israel could fix it for the sake of the innocent,” he added.

Hundreds of aid trucks wait in line to cross into Gaza at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings to a starving civilian population. There has not been a single day we have gotten the needed 500 trucks across. The system is broken and Israel could fix it for the sake of the innocent

— Jan Egeland (@NRC_Egeland) February 28, 2024

Recently, a United Nation official said that Israeli forces are systematically blocking access to people in need in Gaza, complicating the task of delivering aid to the besieged Palestinian territory.

Rafah, the town along the Egyptian border, which was once deemed a “safe zone” by the Israeli military forces, has now become the last refuge for over half of Gaza’s entire population of more than 2.3 million, who have fled their homes in other parts of the territory to shelter from incessant Israeli attacks.

At least 500,000 people are facing famine in Gaza, while the entire population of the territory is experiencing acute food shortage, according to figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Over 30,000 Palestinian, including 14,000 children, have been killed in Gaza, 146 days into the latest offensive launched by Israel, according to Gaza’s health ministry. 

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