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Famine looms in Gaza, and nowhere is safe for civilians

Nine months on, and civilians continue to pay the highest price in Gaza. The UN warns that half the population - 1 million people - face starvation and death by mid-July.

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Last updated 17 July 2024

What is happening in Gaza: the latest news

We are witnessing an unbearable human tragedy in Gaza. People here are enduring unimaginable loss and suffering.

Famine is looming and the healthcare system has all but collapsed.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths has warned of more than a million people (around half Gaza’s population) will face starvation and death by the middle of July.

He stated that waiting until famine is officially declared to act “would be a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of people and a moral outrage”. This famine could still be averted, but it requires urgent action to restore access to humanitarian aid across the entire Gaza strip.

For people to have any chance of survival, humanitarian agencies must be allowed to bring in aid much faster, and an unimpeded flow guaranteed.

Please help people in Gaza

The Palestine Red Crescent Society has now reached over 1.5 million people. But with conditions worsening by the hour, much more is needed. Through a sustained effort over a long period of time, we can avert an even greater catastrophe in Gaza.

Your donation will go towards food parcels, blankets, mattresses, tents, hygiene kits and other essentials. 

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"We've worked tirelessly, day and night"

Palestine Red Crescent Society workers risk their lives every day to deliver vital aid and providing emergency care to their community. 

Duration of video: 02:07
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Is aid getting into Gaza?

The situation in the south has significantly worsened since the Rafah crossing closed on 7 May. That closure and the ongoing insecurity at the Karem Abu Salem/Kerem Shalom crossing has resulted in a massive reduction to the aid entering Gaza.

We need safe, unimpeded, and sustained humanitarian access into and throughout Gaza. Land-based delivery remains the most effective way to deliver aid and aid must be able to enter Gaza at scale through the south, as these are the main arteries for aid delivery and so have the greatest capacity.

The lack of aid access has had devastating effects for the people of Gaza, who have endured critical food insecurity and face the prospect of famine.

Is there a famine in Gaza?

The lack of aid access has had devastating effects for the people of Gaza, who have endured critical food insecurity and face the prospect of famine.

The independent and internationally recognised Integrated Food Security Phase Classification warned in March that famine was imminent in the north of Gaza, and also possible later in the south in the worst-case scenario.

What's going on in Rafah, Gaza?

We are desperately concerned about the ongoing situation in Rafah as Gaza’s population has been pushed into even deeper levels of pain and suffering.

Around one million people have been displaced from Rafah. These people have already been displaced several times and there are no safe places for them to flee to. Hundreds of thousands of people fear what will happen next. All three hospitals in Rafah are non-functional, with only two out of six field hospitals functioning.

What's happening in the West Bank?

The rapidly deteriorating security situation and rising violence in the West Bank is deeply concerning - 2023 was the deadliest year in the West Bank in over a decade. 

According to UNOCHA, it has so far led to the deaths of more than 521 people, more than 5,200 injuries and the displacement of 2,155 people due to the demolition or confiscation of homes and structures.

The violence in the West Bank could have irreversible consequences for communities. It has led to the loss of people’s land and livelihoods as some communities have been entirely displaced.

Movement restrictions, and thousands of square kilometres of unharvested olive groves have caused the complete closure of some cities and villages, and damaged the economy.

The violence has also re-displaced internally displaced people, with damage and destruction taking place in and around refugee camps.

Summary of events in Gaza

  • Threat of famine in Gaza: the IPC projects that famine in Gaza is imminent 
  • Conflict shows no signs of slowing and the humanitarian situation deteriorates by the hour
  • The death toll in Gaza currently stands at 37, 431, and 521 in the West Bank
  • 85,653 people have been injured in Gaza and 5,200 in the West Bank

The impact of this violence has been affecting communities on both sides of the conflict, since it escalated on Saturday 7 October.

In Israel, more than 1,200 people have died following the attack on 7 October. 5,430 have been injured.

Are any hospitals open in Gaza?

The healthcare system in Gaza has all but collapsed. Most hospitals have closed due to damage, insecurity or lack of fuel and supplies.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) continue to provide health services despite immense challenges.

Health workers have faced unimaginable challenges over the last eight months.

Since hostilities escalated, hundreds of medical and humanitarian workers have lost their lives while trying to deliver essential medical care and aid. This is unacceptable – medical facilities, health workers and patients, must be protected.

To meet the vast medical needs in Gaza, the Red Cross had recently opened a field hospital, with facilities for emergency care and a mother and child unit.

"We experienced first hand, the horror of this conflict"

Dr Sandy Inglis, ICRC's chief medical officer, treated people involved in a mass casualty event in May. He describes what he saw.

Duration of video: 00:52
More on the Red Cross field hospital in Rafah

Are people homeless in Gaza?

A million people have been forced to evacuate Rafah since the start of May, people have been displaced up to six times. There is nowhere safe in Gaza for people to go, and nowhere that can adequately meet people’s basic needs.

Many have sought shelter in Rafah, having already been displaced multiple times along the way. Men, women and children have walked for days past horrific scenes of death and destruction, sometimes losing family members throughout the journey.

People are struggling to live with dignity in makeshift tents next to waste or sewerage areas; many are sleeping in the open, or trying to cover themselves with cardboard and scraps of wood.

Those able to find a space in a displacement camp have just one square metre per person. Many shelters lack sufficient ventilation and over half are soaked by water and rain - infectious diseases are spreading rapidly, and vulnerable people are dying.

How is the Palestine Red Crescent supporting people in Gaza?

The Palestine Red Crescent Society is working day and night, risking, and losing, their lives to deliver assistance. They are mandated to receive and distribute this aid to where it is needed most in Gaza.

In the Gaza Strip PRCS teams have:

  • received over 21,500 trucks of humanitarian aid for distribution in Gaza
  • reached over 1.5m people with food parcels, blankets, mattresses, tents, hygiene kits and other essentials
  • supported over 220,000 people with health services
  • provided psychosocial support to over 79,000 people
  • reached more than 19,000 people with emergency medical services
  • set up 14 camps for displaced people.

The ICRC has opened a 60-bed field hospital in Rafah, and medical teams have performed over 7,300 consultations and 226 surgical procedures. Teams have also performed 3,183 surgical procedures at the European Gaza Hospital.

In the West Bank PRCS teams have:

  • responded to 4,052 injuries
  • delivered food parcels to 42,840 people

"We must always have hope": what it's like for Red Cross Red Crescent colleagues responding to the crisis in Gaza

How to help people in Gaza

The best way to help people in Gaza is by donating to our emergency appeal.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society is rooted in the community and have been working to support everyone affected by the conflict since the violence escalated in October 2023, and for many years before that.

Map of Israel and the Gaza Strip

What is the British Red Cross doing for Gaza?

The British Red Cross is directly supporting our partners in the Movement – including the Palestine Red Crescent Society – to respond to these urgent needs, providing funding as well as expert staff.

We have deployed nine psychosocial volunteers to Tel Aviv, Cairo and Cyprus alongside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support British Nationals in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

And we have also deployed logistics and managerial staff to the region to support with the deliver and distribution of aid and humanitarian assistance. 

We will do all we can to support people on both sides of the conflict for as long as we’re needed.

What is the Occupied Palestinian Territory?

The Occupied Palestinian Territory or OPT is an internationally accepted description, used by the United Nations. It refers to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). 

What is the Gaza Strip?

The Gaza Strip is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Its an enclave 25 miles long and six miles wide, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, and Egypt.

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Support our Gaza Crisis Appeal

The humanitarian situation deteriorates by the day in Gaza, and millions are facing starvation. Please support our vital work in Gaza and the West Bank.


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