IOM Egypt Response Towards the Violence in Gaza

As of the 24th of May, the escalation of hostilities in Gaza has claimed the lives of at least 259 Palestinians and injured over 8,000 people, as declared by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Since the start of the escalation, 285 housing units have been severely damaged, and rendered uninhabitable, leaving over 2,500 people homeless. Additionally, over 77,000 people have been displaced, most of them children, and more than 40 schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) are now serving as shelters.

The hostilities have also caused serious damage to civilian infrastructure in Gaza, affecting water sanitation and hygiene services. Moreover, the violence has led to electrical power shortages and damaged the Gaza Ministry of Health Central Laboratory, which carries out COVID-19 tests. This in return has hindered provided health care services.

Following the ceasefire announcement, most of the displaced have returned home. However, about 1,000 people whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged remain in need for urgent lifesaving humanitarian interventions.

The Egyptian government is moving with its full capacity to respond to the aftermath of the crisis with the provision of emergency medical care, food, and non-food items as well as assistance to injured victims and their accompanying relatives crossing the borders to Egypt. The Egyptian government has opened Rafah crossing point which lies between the Egyptian Rafah and the Palestinian Rafah border to receive the injured victims.

Also, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population sent several equipped ambulances to transport the most urgent medical cases who require immediate lifesaving interventions in Al-Arish hospital.  In addition, the Egyptian government is working on facilitating the passage of the wounded and their companions for treatment in Egypt, where 740 Palestinians have arrived in Egypt since the 17th of May.

IOM closely works with the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) thanks to an existing Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations. The ERC is a part of the International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent that consider the only National Society in Egypt, its mandate to alleviate humanitarian suffering during the time of emergencies and work as an auxiliary body to the authority. It is the only humanitarian actor in Egypt responsible for coordinating and channelling the humanitarian efforts and assistance to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. The ERC had already sent two convoys to North Sinai, where one is set in Rafah by the Border Crossing and another in Arish, with subsequent capacity building to ERC hospital in Alarish and as well provide support to Al-Arish Main Hospital. Adding to that, ERC first responders’ volunteers from Emergency Medical teams, Psychosocial Support, Emergency Response and Restoring Family links are currently deployed at the borders to provide the required services according to the needs. Such aid will allow the Hospital to accommodate the victims expected to arrive by ambulance.

IOM Egypt in cooperation with ERC is ready to provide support to those entering Egypt in need of specialized health support, including life-saving and post-traumatic surgical interventions. IOM is also offering its support towards the protection of those are in need through the distribution of food and non-food items, and providing access to basic services such as water, sanitation, and hygiene items, in response to the needs of 1,000 persons arriving in Egypt.

As part of IOM mandate on the protection of labour migrants, and in coordination with ERC Restoring Family links, IOM has set-up an evacuation assistance plan for families and other residents of all origins leaving Gaza through Egypt. IOM received requests for supporting the evacuation and humanitarian movement assistance from five countries for a total of 300 persons. IOM assistance includes logistic support, medical checks, PCR testing and travel assistance. IOM is ready with buses to transport families safely from Rafah to Cairo. A medical team will carry out the required COVID tests, while organizing the logistics support for their safe arrival back to their countries of origin.

IOM Egypt has launched its flash funding appeal to assist the urgent needs of Palestinians displaced populations (DPs) and stranded labour migrants who are in a vulnerable situation in Gaza Strip and in need for urgent live-saving assistance and protection. To respond to urgent and growing needs, IOM and its partners will increase the humanitarian interventions targeting the needs of the most vulnerable. All interventions are coordinated with the Government and humanitarian organisations to ensure an efficient and coordinated response.

For more information, please contact Mariam Salim at IOM Egypt, Tel: +20 1012 428 527, Email: msalim@iom.int

Photo Credit @UNOCHA 2021