UN poll: Intensive military operations will bring more death and despair to thousands of women and girls in Rafah

Baghdad, Data from a new survey conducted by UN Women, in the city of Rafah, showed the depth of the physical and psychological suffering widespread among women and girls.

93% of the women surveyed expressed their feelings of insecurity, while more than half of the women interviewed reported critical health conditions that require urgent medical attention. In the event of any Israeli ground invasion, these numbers will rise.

As the population of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip swelled five-fold, rising from 250,000 to 1.4 million people within just seven months of war, the physical and mental health conditions of women and girls have deteriorated dramatically, as revealed by data from a new survey conducted by UN Women.

The imminent risks of death and injury among the 700,000 women and girls in Rafah will escalate with any ground invasion, because they have no safe haven to escape from bombing and killing.

More than 10,000 women have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the war, includi
ng 6,000 mothers who left behind 19,000 orphan children.

A 45-year-old woman describes the situation, saying: ‘There is no safety or security. I am afraid for my life and the lives of my husband and children. Even if I keep talking about this for the next hundred years, I will not be able to describe the fear in which we live.’

UN Women’s survey data highlights the catastrophic reality of the lives of women and girls in Rafah.

1. There are now 700,000 women and girls in Rafah who have no safe place to go. 93% of the participants in the survey expressed that they felt unsafe, whether inside their homes or in temporary displacement places.

2. More than 80% of women feel depressed, 66% are unable to sleep, and more than 70% suffer from anxiety and increased nightmares.

3. More than half of the women surveyed (51%) have suffered from a medical condition that requires urgent medical care since the beginning of the war, with 62% of them unable to afford the necessary medical care.

4. More than 6 in 10 women w
ho are now pregnant or who have been pregnant since October reported health complications, including 95% who reported urinary tract infections, 80% who reported anemia, and 30% who reported Reported the occurrence of early labor, and 50% reported being exposed to high blood pressure disorders.

In families with breastfeeding mothers, 72% of them reported challenges in breastfeeding and meeting the nutritional needs of children.

5. Women in Rafah struggle to ensure the physical and psychological safety of their children, while also bearing increasing burdens of caregiving and domestic responsibilities, especially in tents and overcrowded housing.

8 out of 10 female and male participants in the survey (79%) indicated that mothers bear greater responsibility than men in providing psychological support to adult family members and children alike.

Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahouth, said: ‘Women and girls in Rafah, as in the rest of the Gaza Strip, are already living in a state of constant despair and
fear, and a ground invasion will be an intolerable escalation that threatens to kill thousands of civilians and force hundreds of thousands to flee once again.

She added, “Civilians must be protected. We need an immediate ceasefire and safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid throughout the Strip. The need for peace has never been more urgent than now. This is our only hope.”

UN Women calls for the implementation of Security Council Resolution No. 2728 (2024) issued on 25 March 2024, which demands an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid.

UN Women conducted a direct collection of primary data covering 360 male and female respondents in Rafah by the end of April 2024.

Source: National Iraqi News Agency