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World News In Brief: Updates On Worsening Crises In Gaza, South Sudan, DR Congo

Continued hostilities and evacuation orders in Gaza have led to the closure of key humanitarian facilities in Rafah, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Friday.

Only three field hospitals are operating in Rafah in southern Gaza, one of which is only functioning partially, and all of these facilities are overwhelmed and undersupplied, OCHA said, with the seven-month-long war severely impacting civilians and the infrastructure they depend on for healthcare.

The UN humanitarian aid agency said the Malnutrition Stabilisation Centre in the Tal as-Sultan area is currently not functioning, and teams are working on relocating to the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis.

OCHA also reported that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) had documented about 32,000 people fleeing Rafah between Wednesday and Thursday.

‘Families are looking for safety’

OCHA said families are looking for safety, but nowhere in the enclave is safe.

In central Gaza, humanitarian partners who have been working to improve water, sanitation and hygiene access noted that “internally displaced people who have sought shelter at sites in Khan Younis still don’t have enough safe drinking water.”

These partners have established 10 new water points in Khan Younis, but emphasised that water production in Gaza is about one fifth of what it was in October.

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“Across Gaza, civilians face heightened health and environmental risks due to limited access to clean water as well as sewage overflow, infrastructure damage, lack of hygiene items and fuel shortages,” OHCA said.

Aid partners are reporting that Khan Younis has no functioning sewing pumping stations which has forced displaced families to create makeshift toilets.

Escalating violence in South Sudan

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan are concerned about an eruption of violence in Malakal in the Upper Nile state, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at UN Headquarters on Friday.

The escalating violence had resulted in the death of several civilians on Thursday and had led to increased tensions in the UN civilian protection site adjacent to the base of the UN peacekeeping mission, UNMISS, in the state and among communities in Malakal town.

“The mission has urged state and local authorities as well as government security forces to maintain calm and stability in the area,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Violence causing ‘lasting harm’

“Such violence causes lasting harm to communities and also prevents UNMISS from continuing our vital protection and peacebuilding work,” cautioned Nicholas Haysom, head of the Mission.

UNMISS is continually working with local and community authorities to calm the situation and had increased their patrols in the peacekeeping protection site.

Amid the outbreaks of violence, UNMISS called on feuding parties to show restraint and use dialogue to resolve outstanding issues peacefully.

Clashes erupt in DR Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, humanitarian colleagues raised deep concerns by the alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation in North Kivu, in the east of the country, the UN Spokesperson said.

According to OCHA, clashes have resumed in several parts of the towns of Masisi, Rutshuru and Sake. Fresh fighting was moving closer to the city of Kanyabanyonga and displacing civilians, many of whom had sought safety in nearby towns.

The city is hosting more than 100,000 men, women and children who have fled violence in Rutshuru and Masisi, but due to current insecurity in the area, humanitarian efforts there have been suspended, with at least 48,000 people have been cut off from assistance in the past week.

Warring parties must protect civilians: OCHA

The escalating violence risks worsening the already precarious humanitarian situation in North Kivu, which was hosting more than 2.7 million displaced people, the UN Spokesperson said.

On Friday, the UN emergency relief agency, OCHA, called on all parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and to take immediate steps immediately to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The UN Spokesperson said additional resources to address humanitarian needs in the Congo are desperately and urgently needed. Five months into the year, the annual response plan is just 23 per cent funded, with $591 million in the bank out of $2.6 billion that is needed.

Humanitarian actors reached more than 3.1 million people in the country with vital aid in the first three months of 2024, nearly one quarter of the population they had aimed to serve, he said.

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