UN warns of a ‘pressure cooker of despair’
Geneva: The United Nations is warning that Rafah is becoming a “pressure cooker of despair” as thousands of people flee into the city from Khan Younis and other parts of southern Gaza as the Israel-Hamas war grinds on.
Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also said the situation in Rafah is “not looking good” amid concerns that the city may be a new focus of Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
“Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair and we fear for what comes next,” he told a regular UN briefing in Geneva on Friday. “It’s like every week we think, you know, it can’t get any worse. Well, go figure. It gets worse.
“It’s very important for us and for OCHA to put on record today our deep concern about what’s happening in Khan Yunis and Rafah in the southern part of the strip, because it’s really not looking good,” Laerke added.
Speaking from Jerusalem, Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, the representative for the World Health Organization in occupied Palestinian areas, said the UN health agency estimates that at least 8,000 Gazans should be sent abroad for medical care.
Of those, some three-quarters, or 6,000, need care for war injuries – such as treatment for burns or reconstructive surgery — while the rest require medical attention for conditions like cancer or other diseases, Peeperkorn said.
Since the start of the war on October 7, a total of 243 people has been referred abroad, he said, adding: “That’s a pittance … that is way too little.”