IRC welcomes UNSC call for a ceasefire deal

  • UN Security Council Resolution 2735 calls for a three-phase ceasefire deal to end the war in Gaza.
  • A ceasefire is necessary to facilitate the scale-up of humanitarian aid needed to address the needs of Palestinians and to secure the release of hostages.
  • Since the war began, aid supply and distribution has been dangerously restricted by insecurity and Israel’s bureaucratic and logistical barriers.
  • The IRC urges all parties to the conflict to implement all aspects of the resolution immediately.
Read our June 14 release.

Gaza briefing

The humanitarian suffering in Gaza is catastrophic. The ongoing violence, bombardment and blockade has left more than two million Palestinians—half of them children—without clean water, food and critical medical care. Every day, people face extreme danger and the uncertainty of not knowing if their families will live to see another day. The IRC is responding to the humanitarian crisis arising from the current conflict.

What are the main humanitarian challenges?

Israeli forces began airstrikes and ground operations after Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7, 2023, killing 1,200 people and taking over 200 hostages—many of whom remain captive. Israeli military operations have since caused catastrophic destruction and widespread death and displacement throughout Gaza, particularly in the north, killing more than 37,000 Palestinians and injuring about 85,000 others. More than 50% of the identified fatalities are said to be women and children.

Israel’s blockade of food, water, fuel and essential medicines and supplies is inflicting immense suffering on Palestinians. Currently, 100% of Gazans are facing crisis levels of food insecurity—the highest share ever classified for any area or country. To date, 32 people, including 28 children, have died of malnutrition and dehydration at hospitals in Gaza.

The health care system has collapsed, with attacks on hospitals leaving much of Gaza’s population without access to any treatment. Insecurity Insight recorded more than 900 incidents of violence against, or obstruction of access to, health care in Gaza since the outbreak of violence in October. Almost 500 health care workers have been killed according to the Ministry of Health. 

As fuel reserves expire, doctors and nurses are becoming powerless to treat the sick and injured while ongoing border closures prevent patients in Gaza from traveling to Israel, the West Bank or East Jerusalem for treatment. Only 17 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals (47%) are partially functional and 19 hospitals (52%) are non-functional.

With the majority of Palestinians in Gaza lacking access to safe water and 1.7 million displaced into crowded settings, the IRC has warned of an imminent infectious disease outbreak in Gaza. Even with an immediate ceasefire, almost 12,000 people would lose their lives in Gaza as a result of disease. Nearly 90,000 could die of secondary health impacts alone should the conflict escalate further.

The flow of humanitarian aid supplies into Gaza has been slowed by insecurity, impediments and severe constraints, including restrictions on the movement between southern and northern Gaza.

Throughout May, only 1,656 aid trucks entered Gaza, compared to 5,671 in April. This represents just 11% of the aid trucks that entered Gaza before October 7. These trucks entered mainly via the Kerem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) land crossing. Frequent and prolonged closures at the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings have severely hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Rafah crossing has been closed since May 6.

Gaza’s recovery after the fighting ends will depend on whether, and how intensely, Israel maintains its policy of preventing basic goods and services from entering Gaza.

Learn more about the crisis in Gaza.

A young child wearing a yellow jacket holds an adult's hands while they walk through a destroyed neighborhood in Gaza.
Displaced Gazans walk through a destroyed neighborhood during a temporary humanitarian ceasefire.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images
How is the IRC helping?

The IRC’s response in Gaza draws on our global experience and expertise in emergency response, as well as our longstanding presence in the region. In 2022, IRC teams across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya helped 6.3 million people. Local partners have been leading the response in Gaza and we are supporting their objectives through financial, technical and operational support.

Emergency Medical Teams

The IRC and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) have deployed six successive Emergency Medical Teams to provide emergency and life-saving medical care, including direct medical care at hospitals, and the distribution of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. The team, composed of trauma doctors, surgeons, pediatricians and disaster experts, are offering surge and relief support to hospitals and providing life-saving medical care to injured Palestinians. To date, our EMTs have delivered at least 384 surgeries and 1,243 consultations, including minor procedures and critical care.

Mental health support

In partnership with Anera, the IRC is working to provide essential mental health and psychosocial support to Palestinian children. We are utilizing a comprehensive approach that prioritizes the needs of children between the ages of 4 and 18, to implement therapeutic activities including play, art therapy and life skills training. Our activities are designed to empower children to cope with their experiences, express themselves creatively, and develop essential life skills for the future, thereby promoting healing, resilience, and emotional wellbeing. By fostering a safe and supportive environment, we aim to mitigate the long-term impact of the crisis in Gaza and have provided psychosocial support services to nearly 9,000 children and more than 1,500 adult caregivers as of April. 

The IRC has also partnered withNafs and begun delivering mental health and psychosocial services (MHPSS) activities through six mobile community centers—three in Gaza and three in the West Bank. To date, our partnership with Nafs has reached 2,206 children with psychosocial support services and recreational activities, 180 adult caregivers with positive parenting sessions and 59 people with group counseling.

In partnership with the Psychosocial Counseling Center for Women (PSCCW), the IRC is addressing the severe challenges facing Palestinian women and children in the West Bank. The partnership focuses on empowering these communities through comprehensive mental health and psychosocial support and will provide support to women and adolescent girls, especially survivors of gender-based violence, and child protection services to boys and girls.

Medical supplies and pharmaceuticals

The IRC has procured and delivered 46 metric tons of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies which the IRC and our partners are distributing to support health facilities across Gaza. These include pediatric and psychotropic medicines as well as trauma supplies and are based on needs identified and coordinated across health actors working in Gaza.

The IRC will begin nutrition programming, pending access and security, focusing on screening and treatment for children under 5 years of age and for pregnant and lactating women using our simplified approach to malnutrition. The IRC is planning on sending 1,020,000 sachets of ready-to-use therapeutic food (PlumpyNut) to treat over 9000 children in Gaza.

A truck filled with supplies procured by the IRC is en route to Gaza.
Medical supplies procured by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) arrive in Gaza to be distributed to hospitals and clinics to support critical health and medical services.
Photo: IRC

Support for displaced families

We have partnered with Palestinian NGO, Juzoor for Health and Social Development, to address the health and mental health needs of those displaced and to provide access to basic services for children and families. 

Together, our three mobile health teams have provided more than 31,000 health services to displaced people in 13 shelters across northern Gaza. These teams deliver child health and newborn care, reproductive care and maternal health care, treatment for communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as emergency services for displaced people.

Moreover, we have also begun mental health and psychosocial support activities for 12,000 women and children and early childhood development (ECD) activities for 6,000 children between 1 and 4 years old in shelters in northern Gaza. Juzoor is using a combination of their own and IRC ECD materials and providing children's activity kits to support children affected by the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Helped families with basic needs

The IRC has partnered with the Agriculture Development Association (PARC) to provide emergency food in-kind or cash assistance and emergency water supply to approximately 14,000 individuals with improved sanitation through repairs and maintenance of sanitation infrastructures and hygiene awareness in Northern, Middle (Khan Younis) and Southern (Rafah) Gaza.

The IRC is also working to commence a water trucking program, and expand to other more sustainable water, sanitation and health (WASH) interventions with a goal to improve the health and wellbeing of approximately 30,000 individuals within six months, pending security and access. The IRC will collaborate closely with all relevant stakeholders to provide emergency water supply, minor repairs and maintenance on existing water and sanitation facilities and hygiene awareness activities.

This programming builds upon the IRC’s partnership with Welfare Association (Taawon) which delivered fresh food parcels to approximately 3,500 families in Southern Gaza between January and February 2024.

What needs to happen now?

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling for a permanent ceasefire to protect Palestinians from harm, enable the release of all hostages, and allow for a step-change in the assistance provided to people across the whole of Gaza. 

Urge Congress to call for a ceasefire.

“In most emergencies, civilians flee conflict. They seek safety until they can return home and as humanitarian agencies we go to where the people are,” says Kiryn Lanning, IRC Country Director for the Gaza Crisis.

“In this case, people are surviving in an active war zone—there is nowhere safe for people in Gaza.  They are trapped and being chased by conflict into new ‘humanitarian zones’—which are still targeted, and they don’t know if they or their families will survive from day to day.” 

The IRC plans to scale its programming in Gaza as soon as a ceasefire is in place. The IRC will aim to work directly and through partners to provide nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare, and protection particularly focused on separated children.

A Palestinian girl walks with her father after the Friday prayer in Gaza on August 4, 2023
A Palestinian girl walks with her father after the Friday prayer in Gaza on August 4, 2023.
Photo: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images