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Danish NGOs in joint appeal: The situation in Rafah requires urgent political action

More than 1,5 million internally displaced persons – of whom more than 600,000 are children – are right now trapped in Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt. Desperate children and adults who are confined to a tiny area, where they shelter in temporary tents, many without food, water and medicine.

Posted on 01 Mar 2024

Rafah is now threatened by an Israeli military land incursion, which will forcibly displace people, once again, and cause extensive human loss and suffering. But there is nowhere safe to go from here. The border with Egypt is closed, and civilians cannot leave. An Israeli land incursion will have devastating humanitarian consequences.

The American government is now opening up for the possibility of a ceasefire. We therefore urge the Danish government, in cooperation with the EU and the international community, to support these efforts and ensure that a ceasefire will not only be temporary, but immediate and lasting. Without a lasting ceasefire, aid cannot reach civilians in need, and it will not be possible to work towards a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict.

Civilians in Gaza were already under immense pressure before 7 October – with more than two thirds of the population depending on humanitarian aid distributed by humanitarian organizations. The humanitarian situation has now become catastrophic. As a result of the Israeli government’s blockade on Gaza, further compounded by checkpoints and Israeli restrictions inside Gaza, humanitarian aid such as food and water cannot reach the majority of the population.

We are now witnessing a manmade hunger catastrophe directly resulting from war. Almost the entire population is starving or threatened by famine. The speed with which malnutrition in Gaza among children is increasing is unprecedented globally, according to UNICEF. Close to all households are forced to skip at least one meal per day, and some families go days and nights on end without eating. At least 17,000 children have reportedly been separated from their parents, with severe long-term psychological impact as a result.

The International Court of Justice called on the Israeli government to use all means to prevent civilian losses and secure humanitarian access. But the situation has only deteriorated in the last month. An expanded military land incursion into Rafah will result in even more displacement and loss of life.

As Danish humanitarian and development organizations we are therefore deeply alarmed about the prospects of a full-blown land incursion into Rafah, as it will place civilians in an even more exposed and dangerous situation, and it may very well become the most lethal and destructive chapter in the war to date.

The Danish government has a responsibility to demand that civilians in Gaza are protected and that international law is respected, including that humanitarian organizations and medical facilities are protected from attacks. The Danish government must shoulder its international responsibility and insist on an immediate and lasting ceasefire – without a ceasefire we risk an even greater humanitarian tragedy in Rafah.

Read the published statement in Danish


  • ActionAid Denmark
  • Amnesty International Denmark
  • Care Denmark
  • DanChurch Aid
  • DRC Danish Refugee Council
  • International Media Support
  • Oxfam Denmark
  • Plan Denmark
  • Save the Children Denmark
  • SOS Children Villages
  • UNICEF Denmark
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