- The Guardian
- Issue #2078
Like funerals postponed
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza was dire before these hostilities and has now severely worsened. This exacts unjustifiable and specific costs on women and girls. The demand to immediately relocate 1.1 million people from northern Gaza, while the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous,” UN Women said. UN Women is the United Nations body dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women, and is on the ground in the Gaza Strip providing support. “We reiterate the Secretary-General’s call … for unrestricted access for humanitarian actors into Gaza, including the United Nations, to provide aid to the most affected. This is essential to address the desperate, immediate needs of women and children, including to food, water, and protection. We also join in his call for the immediate release of hostages.”
As of 2 November, following four weeks of bombardment by Israeli forces, 6086 women and children have been killed and 735,000 women and girls displaced from their homes. The UN Population Fund estimates that there are 50,000 pregnant women, with 5522 expected to deliver within the next month. These are the cold hard statistics, but behind every statistic there is untold human suffering, desperation, and destruction.
“We thank God every day we wake up alive. We are like funerals postponed, dressed and ready to die, waiting for our turn,” says 44-year-old Hayam Farahat In southern Gaza. “We can’t take this anymore”, she says. Their grief is compounded by the loss of relatives they cannot visit, trapped by the dangers that lurk outside. Every morning, Farahat and her family wake up and give thanks for their safety. “We are waiting, wondering when it will be our turn to face the unthinkable,” she says. As she speaks, air strikes again explode and Farahat says she must leave to be with her family. She ends the conversation by saying that her deepest wish was that, if they were hit by an airstrike, that it would happen while she and her family slept.
Amani works as a psychotherapist in the Gazan Ministry of Health. Her mission is to provide support to patients processing the traumas of living amid years of conflict. She also carries the heavy burden of protecting her own family. “In every single moment, an eerie uncertainty surrounds us. I live in continuous fear of what could happen to my children and family,” she says. “My primary responsibility is to offer unwavering support, but the sheer gravity of this duty is crushing.” Amani is a mother of four, and has seen her oldest son, Firas, begin to abandon his dreams of a future as a lawyer amid the conflict. She says: “In the shadow of this war, the dreams and aspirations of my children have been condensed into a singular, fervent plea: to survive.” “Pain and fear now dominate our lives”, she continues, her voice trembling. “This is a conversation I never wished to have, yet I find myself trapped by never-ending thoughts, unrelenting nightmares, and a life of torment.”
“It is imperative that we ensure immediate access to services for women and girls and ensure the prevention of gender-based violence,” says Sarah Hendriks, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, ad interim. “As the international community seeks to respond to this crisis, we must also wholeheartedly support and invest in women-led organisations, which are at the front-line of the humanitarian response, and promote the meaningful participation of women in humanitarian and political processes.”
UN Women calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for the establishment of humanitarian access to facilitate the immediate entry of humanitarian assistance, including food, water, fuel, and health supplies for women and girls in the Gaza Strip.