The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has issued a warning that there are “not enough body bags for the dead in Gaza” as the violence escalates.
More than a million people have fled their homes in anticipation of an Israeli invasion aimed at dismantling Hamas’ leadership following a deadly incursion on October 7.
Vatican News reported that aid groups in Gaza are sounding the alarm that an Israeli ground offensive could precipitate a worsening humanitarian crisis.
“There are not enough body bags for the dead in Gaza at the moment. They don’t even know how to bury these people, so diseases will spread rapidly,” said Antonino Brusa, the Human Resources director of UNRWA.
Israeli forces, supported by U.S. warships, have positioned themselves along the enclave’s border and are preparing for a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group.
For over a week, relentless airstrikes have wreaked havoc in Gaza City and throughout the Strip, resulting in widespread destruction but failing to halt rocket attacks into Israel.
The ongoing conflict has claimed the lives of over 4,000 people on both sides and left countless others injured. Those trapped in Gaza report that there is no safe place to escape to.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Brusa said at least 14 UNRWA employees in Gaza have lost their lives, adding that UNRWA shelters, vital for providing refuge to displaced Palestinians, have also been targeted.
With essential services severely disrupted, Brusa emphasized the urgent need for drinking water in Gaza, where basic necessities have become increasingly scarce.
“At the moment our international staff have one liter of water per person per day,” he said.
He noted that for the first time, UN buildings have been hit by airstrikes, creating an unprecedented situation in the history of UNRWA.
Hospitals have been asked to evacuate, which Brusa described as a death sentence for patients, including pregnant women and the critically ill.
In a video soundbite sent to LiCAS.news by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), William Schomburg, the ICRC head of sub-delegation for Gaza, said civilians across Gaza “lack food, electricity, and water in order for families to be able to meet their basic needs”.
Schomburg, who was in a makeshift camp set up for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, described the situation of the worsening humanitarian crisis.
“Hospitals are rapidly running out of supplies and are facing increasingly difficult conditions under which they need to function,” he said.
“The ICRC stands ready to meet the needs of Gazan communities. However, in order for us to be able to do this, we need safety, security, and supplies,” he added.
UNRWA issued an appeal to open the Rafah border with Egypt to allow essential supplies to enter Gaza.
The UN organization called for the respect of international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding hospitals and patients during times of conflict.