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Israel-Palestine: Rising death and displacement, including among UN staff

BySandeep Patel

Oct 11, 2023


OCHA cited Israeli media, which reported that as of Monday evening, more than 1,000 Israelis, including foreign nationals, were killed and at least 2,806 people were injured, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza said at least 830 Palestinians have been killed and 4,250  injured.

Over a tenth of the population in Gaza, more than 260,000 people, have been displaced since the start of the current conflict on 7 October and the numbers are rising fast. 

More than 175,000 people are sheltering in schools operated by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, which has some 13,000 staff in the enclave.

Nine UNRWA staff killed

UNRWA on Wednesday reported that the death toll among its employees had risen to nine. The agency has repeatedly stressed the importance of protecting civilians, including in conflict.

UNRWA is a lifeline for most of the roughly two million Palestine refugees in Gaza, providing essential services such as education and healthcare. The conflict has forced the closure of its 14 food distribution centres as well as a reduction in operations.

Speaking on Tuesday, UNRWA Director of Communications told UN News that many staff are still working.

“We have people who are responding to the needs of the people in the shelters. They’re giving them mattresses, a place to sleep, clean water, some food, in cooperation with the UN World Food Programme (WFP),” she said.

A ‘devastating’ situation

WFP and other UN agencies have been calling for humanitarian corridors and safe and unobstructed passage for their staff.

In the immediate aftermath of the conflict, WFP began distributing fresh bread, canned food and ready-to-eat food to roughly 100,000 people in UNRWA shelters. The goal is to reach over 800,000 people which will require $17.3 million for immediate response and nearly $45 million over the next six months.

“The situation is devastating,” Samer Abdeljaber, Palestine Country Director, said on Wednesday. 

“We are on the ground doing everything we can to be sure the people in need – the ones who fled their homes, the ones living in shelters – are getting the food and help they need to survive.”

WFP will be rolling out assistance through electronic vouchers so people can buy food from shops that are still open.

“We are doing everything we can but very soon the food supplies and basic needs in Gaza are going to run out,” he said. 

“We need the humanitarian corridor to be able to support the people who are affected and their numbers are rising every day. We need safe and unimpeded access.”

Political engagement continues

Meanwhile, senior UN officials, including the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, continue engagement with parties to the conflict and key stakeholders.

Mr. Wennesland held “productive meetings” on Wednesday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other senior officials, according to a post on his official account on X, formerly Twitter.

He said the priority is to avoid further loss of civilian lives and provide access for humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

More to follow on this story


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