The IRC initiates a response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

  • The IRC will respond to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Gaza, where millions are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
  • The IRC is calling for a humanitarian ceasefire to pave the way for addressing pressing humanitarian and protection needs.
  • With 95% of residents lacking access to safe water and 64% of primary health facilities in Gaza shut, the IRC is warning of an imminent infectious disease outbreak.
Read our November 30 statement.

Gaza briefing

In Gaza, more than 2 million Palestinian civilians are facing peril and disaster every day. The Secretary General of the UN calls this a “humanitarian catastrophe.” Following the work of IRC assessment teams on the ground, and commencement of aid flows from Egypt to Gaza, the IRC is initiating a response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the current conflict. 

What are the main humanitarian challenges?

The escalating conflict in the Middle East on October 7 and since has created widespread death and destruction. Many thousands of children are now reported dead, hundreds of hostages are still in captivity, dozens of aid workers have been killed, and on November 1 a refugee camp was struck.

The population in Gaza lacks access to electricity, fuel, food, or water. Civilians are unable to move in or out. Over 60 percent of primary healthcare facilities have shut while life-saving medicines are stuck at the Rafah crossing. As fuel reserves expire, doctors and nurses are becoming powerless to treat the sick and injured. The UN has said parents will soon run out of food and water for their children.

With 95 percent of Gazans lacking access to safe water and 1.5 million displaced into crowded settings, the IRC is warning of an imminent infectious disease outbreak in Gaza. As Gaza’s residents rely on contaminated water sources and lack access to proper sanitation and hygiene, waterborne illnesses like cholera and typhoid will inevitably spread.

Aid organizations are facing several barriers to humanitarian access both into and around Gaza, caused by the fighting and by a slow, complex clearance system at Rafah crossing and the dangerous lack of fuel. Reports suggest only four of 70 organizations operating in Gaza before this escalation are maintaining some activities.

How is the IRC helping?

There is an imperative to reduce the death and suffering of the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza. Following the work of IRC assessment teams on the ground, and commencement of aid flows from Egypt to Gaza, the IRC is initiating a response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the current conflict. We have a team on the ground in Egypt and are working with partners to deliver supplies and provide bespoke and specialist support in fields of health, water and sanitation, child and women’s protection and psycho-social interventions.

We will be using the dedicated systems we have developed in a range of contexts, including robust monitoring and due diligence, to help ensure that aid reaches the civilians who desperately need it.

What needs to happen now?

The IRC is calling for the following:

  • Support aid delivery through a humanitarian ceasefire 
  • Release hostages now
  • Fund humanitarian aid and ensure it reaches civilians in need
  • Uphold international humanitarian law
  • Protect civilians and aid workers

"The humanitarian suffering in Gaza has already reached catastrophic levels, and it’s set to get worse unless something changes immediately,” says Bob Kitchen, the IRC’s vice president of emergencies. “While the overwhelming driver of mortality remains the ongoing violence and destruction, a humanitarian ceasefire now would also serve to help aid agencies get ahead of a looming public health crisis within an already vast humanitarian crisis.

A halt to the fighting must be meaningful to be impactful. In order to urgently alleviate suffering a “humanitarian ceasefire” needs to include:

  • Free movement of humanitarian supplies into Gaza.
  • Free and safe movement of humanitarian personnel.
  • Free and safe movement and gathering of civilians to access humanitarian aid and services.
  • Evacuation of the sick and the wounded within or out of the territory, alongside additional measures for the protection of civilians in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.
  • Immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
  • A period of time long enough to allow the above to happen - the evidence on the ground is that this needs to be a minimum of five days.

Learn more about why a humanitarian ceasefire is necessary for civilians in Gaza.