Civilians in Rafah are “in a living nightmare with no escape”


ALEXANDRIA, Va –  Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has released the following statement:

Civilians in Rafah have told Islamic Relief they are terrified and expecting to die in the coming days, as fears rise over Israel’s expected assault on the area where over 1 million Palestinians are trapped with nowhere safe to escape.

A further escalation in Rafah will be catastrophic for civilians and could be the deadliest yet. World leaders must act now to stop the slaughter, Islamic Relief says.

Islamic Relief staff in Rafah today describe seeing hundreds of people loading everything they own into their cars to try and flee the area, but they don’t know where to go. One father told us he is taking his children further north but doesn’t have anywhere to stay. He says, “Maybe we can find a tent, or maybe sleep in the street – I don’t know.”

People don’t have anywhere safe to flee as bombing continues throughout Gaza, over 60% of homes are now damaged or destroyed, and most areas are strewn with unexploded ordnance.

The humanitarian crisis in Rafah is increasingly desperate, with more than half of Gaza’s entire population now crammed into the tiny area – which is now one of the most overcrowded places in the world. Many people only fled there after following Israeli orders to evacuate their homes in other parts of Gaza and they are now being bombed in the one place they were promised might be safe.

One Islamic Relief staff member in Rafah, whose name has been withheld for his safety, says: “Conditions here are a living nightmare but there is nowhere safe to escape to. Many families are sheltering in flimsy tents or under a few scraps of cloth or plastic. Others are sleeping out in the open during the cold winter nights, or are packed into homes and schools that are full to bursting point. Children are going days without eating. People don’t have clean water, there are hundreds of people sharing a single toilet or shower, and diseases are spreading fast. Hospitals are barely functioning and ambulances are bombed when they try to help sick or injured people. There are bombs falling and children are being killed every day. We didn’t imagine that it could get worse but now people are terrified that the next few days will be a massacre.”

Since the October 2023 escalation Islamic Relief has been working in Rafah to distribute aid including ready to eat meals and hygiene kits to displaced families. Many of our own staff have fled to Rafah and are now also stuck there and fear for their lives.

Even before October 7  Rafah was already one of the most crowded parts of Gaza – and now its population has increased by 500% in just over four months. Potentially fatal diseases such as hepatitis A, diarrhoea, lice and smallpox are spreading. Malnutrition is rising, with the UN reporting that one in 10 children under-five years old are now acutely malnourished.

The ongoing massacre in Gaza continues to take place in full view of world leaders who are complicit by enabling it to continue unabated. Almost 100,000 Palestinians have now been killed or injured, many of them children. Islamic Relief continues to plead with international governments to demand an immediate and lasting ceasefire and an end to Israel’s siege that is restricting vital humanitarian aid.





Syed M. Hassan  or
(571) 421-7032 (CELL)




Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States.

Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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