Gaza ‘split in two’ as civilians, humanitarians reorganize lives, relief efforts — Global Issues


Andrea De Domenico, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, spoke via video link from Jerusalem.OCHA) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), said people are forced to “completely reorganize their lives over and over again.”

“People have been moved like ‘pawns in a board game’ over the past nine months – forced from one location to another, to the next (and) to the next, regardless of our ability to support them and regardless of the availability of services wherever they end up,” he said.

Meanwhile, humanitarian workers are having to move bases and evacuate from one location to another as the focus of military operations shifts.

“The military operations are putting us under pressure again and turning the tables,” he said.

He added that while discussions were ongoing with all stakeholders, including the Israeli authorities, about bringing aid into Gaza and its distribution, the latest evacuation orders in Khan Younis have undone all the hard work.

Life beyond imagination

An estimated 1.9 million people in the war-torn enclave have been internally displaced – including people who have been displaced nine or 10 times.

“They have been forced to move because of the patterns of the war, the intense fighting that hit them whenever they took the risk of staying, wherever they had homes or wherever they had tents, huts and makeshift shelters,” he added.

Mr De Domenico noted that humanitarian organisations have to restart their efforts “over and over again”, while displaced people have to figure out where to find food, water and medical aid, and reconnect with their neighbours if they have lost family.

“And that has gotten us into trouble again and again, and people have to reinvent their ability to cope with life circumstances that are unimaginable,” he said.

He also stressed that as the war continues, it generates more pain, suffering and humanitarian needs. However, humanitarians “struggle to deliver.”

“We are here to stay and deliver, to help people, but delivering is a daily struggle for us… we literally have to make monumental efforts to maintain some of our services.”

A UN team inspects an unexploded bomb on a main road in Khan Younis, Gaza.

© UNOCHA/Themba Linden

A UN team inspects an unexploded bomb on a main road in Khan Younis, Gaza.

‘Enough of this war’

The OCHA official outlined the challenges for aid workers, explaining that before the war in Gaza City, the humanitarian centre was in the north.

“Then, on the night of October 11-12, in the middle of the night, the Israeli authorities ordered us to leave those facilities and move south… we had to obey… to protect the lives of our personnel,” he said.

“We left with a sense of guilt, because we knew we were leaving civilians behind. Since then, we have been determined not to let circumstances force us to leave every time, unless security is really at stake.”

“We really have to draw a line… enough of this war that continues to tear people’s lives apart.”

‘Nowhere and no one is safe’

Mr De Domenico reiterated that “nowhere and no one is safe” in Gaza, neither civilians nor humanitarian workers.

At least 274 aid workers and volunteers have died so far – many while on the job, others at home with their families.

“(Humanitarian) people are risking their lives every day and there are (few, if not none) humanitarian installations that have been spared when the frontline moved… despite our efforts to report the locations, the reality is… those places are often hit,” he added.

Andrea De Domenico, head of OCHA OPT, briefs journalists.

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