Gaza: Rafah offensive will have catastrophic consequences

MSF calls once again for an immediate and sustained ceasefire to spare the lives of civilians and to allow enough desperately needed aid to enter the enclave.​

“On May 6, Israeli forces issued an evacuation order for several blocks in eastern Rafah, forcing around 100,000 people to quickly leave the area with nowhere safe to go. Last night there was intense bombing in the eastern areas of the city.  

The impact of an offensive on Rafah will have disastrous effects for over a million people. Living conditions all over Gaza are already extremely precarious, they will just get worse for all these people who are being displaced again and will have to live in makeshift tents with extremely limited access to basic necessities such as water.  

This offensive is also going to further aggravate the damage to the health system, which is barely functioning. Like we saw in the north, some hospitals will no longer be accessible and are at high risk of being hit or destroyed.  We have begun to discharge patients at Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, those who can walk, as we also prepare for a possible evacuation.  

The few field hospitals or alternative structures being installed will not be able to cope with an influx of wounded patients on top of regular medical needs such as deliveries and chronic diseases. Health needs will increase massively while access to health care will further decrease.  

Currently, providing medical and humanitarian assistance is hugely challenging. An immediate ceasefire is the first step toward beginning to address the immense needs of people in Gaza.” 

Aurélie Godard, MSF Medical Team Lead in Gaza 

MSF currently operates in three hospitals (Al-Aqsa hospital, Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, and El-Emirati Maternity Hospital), one primary healthcare centre (Al-Shaboura clinic) and three healthcare facilities in Al Mawasi, in Rafah area.

Our teams are offering surgical support, wound care, physiotherapy, post-partum care, primary health care, vaccination, and mental health services, but systematic sieges and evacuation orders on various hospitals are pushing our activities onto an ever-smaller territory and limiting response.

MSF teams comprise 430 people, mainly Palestinian with 30 International mobile staff supporting. IMS staff are mostly based in Rafah (south Gaza), Khan Younis and Deir Al Balah (Middle Area) to support our Palestinian colleagues. Most of the team is composed of surgical and emergency staff, the rest offering logistic support and coordination.

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