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UN warns of new exodus of Palestinians

The ongoing conflict has led to the largest forced displacement in Gaza since 1948, according to UN data

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urged the Security Council to prevent “another forced exodus of Palestinians.”

The number of people who have been forced to flee their homes by “war, violence and persecution” has already reached 114 million globally, Grandi said in a statement on Thursday, citing the UN’s latest estimate.

But the figure will be higher as early as next month when the commission issues an update, he said, referring to the deteriorating situation in Gaza.

More than 800,000 Palestinian refugees have fled Rafah, near Gaza’s border with Egypt, since Israeli forces began launching targeted raids in the city earlier this month, according to a UN estimate. Rafah hosted around 1.4 million Palestinian refugees displaced from other areas of the enclave. The Israel Defense Forces issued evacuation orders for parts of the city as it sent tanks and troops into its eastern neighborhoods, forcing civilians to flee to rubble-strewn areas that were previously bombed.

Grandi warned of “another forced exodus of Palestinians,” drawing a comparison to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, which led to a forced migration known in Arabic as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”

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Magistrates are seen at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as part of South Africa's request on a Gaza ceasefire in The Hague, on May 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas movement.
ICJ orders Israel to end Rafah offensive

This “will only create one more intractable problem and make a solution to this decades-long conflict impossible to find,” he added.

After the establishment of Israel, many Palestinians sought temporary shelter in the Jordan-controlled West Bank and Egypt-controlled Gaza. Thousands fled once again after the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel took control of the territories.

The current Israel-Hamas war has driven more than 1.8 million Gazans from their homes, the largest forced displacement of Palestinians since 1948, according to the UN.

Grandi urged the UN to prevent more people from displacement, adding that “it is not too late to try and save countless millions more from the scourge of war.”

Israel declared war on Hamas after the Palestinian militants carried out a surprise cross-border raid on October 7 last year, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. The Israeli military campaign in Gaza has since left at least 36,000 people dead, according to health authorities in the Palestinian enclave.

May 31, 2024 at 08:31PM
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