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UN: We will not be party to the forced evacuation of Palestinians from Rafah

February 13, 2024 at 10:03 am

Secretary-General Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric attends Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process press briefing at UN Headquarters on 07 February 2024 [Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, said yesterday that the United Nations “will not be party” to any forced displacement of Palestinians currently living in Rafah, noting that there was nowhere safe in Gaza for them to go.

In response to a question about the possibility of the UN participating in the evacuation operation, Dujarric stressed the need to “ensure that anything that happens is done in full respect of international law, in the full respect of the protection of civilians.”

“We will not be party to forced displacement of people,” Dujarric said. “As it is, there is no place that is currently safe in Gaza.”

“You can’t send people back to areas that are littered with unexploded ordnance, not to mention a lack of shelter,” referring to the northern and central areas of the Gaza Strip, which witnessed massive destruction as a result of Israel’s bombing campaign.

Dujarric denounced the scarcity of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, pointing out that the available supplies “may last us just days.”

Last week, Dujarric stressed the need to protect hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who took refuge in Rafah, stressing that the UN “would not support in any way forced displacement, which goes against international law.”

This came after Israeli government spokesman Elon Levy asked UN agencies to cooperate regarding a plan that the army is developing to evacuate civilians from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Friday that the Israeli army had approved a military operation in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip.

The newspaper pointed out that preparations for an operation in Rafah began weeks ago, and the army has already agreed to a plan that includes the need to evacuate displaced Palestinians.

On Sunday night, flouting the provisional ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israel launched an air campaign on Rafah, killing more than 65 Palestinians. The city had been declared a “safe zone” by occupation forces and over a million Palestinians had taken shelter there after being forced out of their homes in the northern areas of the Strip since 7 October.

The Israeli offensive has left 85 per cent of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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