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Palestinians in Rafah face humanitarian emergency

Displaced Palestinians arrive in central Gaza after fleeing from the southern Gaza city of Rafah in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, on Wednesday, May 7, 2024.   -  
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Abdel Kareem Hana/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


As the conflict in Gaza continues to escalate, tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians in Rafah are facing an increasingly dire situation.

Families are being forced to leave their homes, packing up their belongings and fleeing the area amidst the uncertainty and chaos brought on by Israel's seizure of nearby border crossings and the looming threat of a full-scale invasion.

The closure of key border crossings, including Kerem Shalom and Rafah, has severely hampered humanitarian aid efforts. 

While the Israeli military has reopened Kerem Shalom, allowing some movement of goods, humanitarian aid has yet to enter Gaza due to the absence of personnel on the Palestinian side. This closure not only exacerbates an already dire humanitarian crisis but also hampers efforts to provide essential supplies such as food and medicine to Gaza's population of 2.3 million Palestinians.

The situation in Rafah remains tense, with smoke rising over the southern Gaza Strip as Israeli forces maintain control over the area. Despite limited incursions, a full-scale invasion of the crowded southern city has not yet occurred. However, the looming threat has prompted concern from the international community, with the United States urging Israel to refrain from further escalation out of fear that it would worsen Gaza's already dire humanitarian situation.

For families in Rafah, the uncertainty is palpable. Displaced multiple times by the ongoing conflict, they are unsure where to seek refuge. Some consider fleeing to the half-destroyed city of Khan Younis, while others contemplate heading north or seeking shelter in an Israeli-declared "humanitarian zone" within Gaza, despite concerns about limited water and supplies in the area.

Amidst the chaos, aid workers are scrambling to assist a population desperate for relief after enduring seven months of war. 

Trucks carrying essential supplies have been seen at border crossings, but the prolonged closure of these crossings threatens to further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where the United Nations warns that a "full-blown famine" is already underway in the north.

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