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April 24, 2024

As the crisis in Gaza passes its 200th day, ActionAid is warning that Gaza is becoming a graveyard for women and girls. At least 70% of the more than 34,000 people killed in the last six-and-a-half months have been women and children. According to UN Women, 10,000 women in Gaza have been killed — 6,000 of them mothers.  
Nowhere in Gaza is safe from the death and destruction. At least 18 children were killed during airstrikes on Rafah at the weekend, according to reports, along with a pregnant woman whose baby doctors managed to save via an emergency cesarean. Airstrikes have been particularly intense in Rafah, Deir Al Balah, and Gaza City, according to UNOCHA, leaving hundreds of thousands of people sheltering there in fear for their lives.   
Hanifa, a mother who has been displaced to southern Gaza, told ActionAid:

“The bombing is loud and audible, and sometimes we do not sleep all night, so we wake up and think about what we can feed our children, because there is no food security. We do not know whether we will wake up or not, and if we wake up, what edible things we could find to eat.”

 Women and girls have been impacted by the crisis in Gaza in unique ways over the last 200 days. With only three of the 11 partially functioning hospitals in the territory currently able to provide maternity care, according to UNFPA, pregnant women are having to give birth without adequate care or medical supplies, including antibiotics and painkillers. Extreme food shortages are leaving many women so malnourished that they are unable to breastfeed their newborn babies, while some expectant mothers have experienced miscarriages very late in their pregnancies as a result of malnutrition. An estimated 690,000 women and girls are having to manage their periods each month amid a severe lack of period products, clean water, soap, toilets and privacy. A recent report by UNRWA claims that women and girls were among detainees in Gaza allegedly subjected to ill-treatment by the Israeli forces, including potential sexual violence and harassment.  
Despite experts warning that famine is imminent in Gaza, aid is still not entering the territory on anything like the scale required. An analysis of data compiled by UNRWA shows that, during April so far, only 191 trucks have entered Gaza via the crossings at Kerem Shalom and Rafah on average each day – far below the pre-October 7 average level of 500 trucks per day. So little aid has entered for so long that Oxfam believes 1,500 trucks are now needed per day to make up the shortfall.  

Humanitarian workers continue to face unacceptable risks and danger when delivering life-saving aid in Gaza. Barely a week after seven aid workers were tragically killed by an airstrike, UNICEF said one of its convoys had been hit by live ammunition while waiting at a checkpoint. Meanwhile, aid is still being blocked from getting to where it is most needed. According to UNOCHA, between April 6 and 12, 41% of humanitarian missions to the north of Gaza – where people are most at risk of famine – were denied, while the World Health Organisation said a recent mission to hospitals in northern Gaza was only partially completed due to severe delays at checkpoints and ongoing hostilities.  
If there is to be any hope of averting famine in Gaza, the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza must be significantly scaled up immediately and full access given so that it can reach those most in need. We reiterate that aid workers and infrastructure have protected status under international humanitarian law and should never, ever, be targets. It is also imperative that all donor countries who have not already done so immediately restore funding to UNRWA, which is the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza and a lifeline to the population.   

Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, said:

“For more than 200 days, people in Gaza have been living a nightmare they can’t wake up from. Instead of a place they can live and thrive, Gaza has become a graveyard for women and girls, who make up the majority of the staggering death toll. Those who have survived the near relentless bombing are struggling amid extreme shortages of food and water, while living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.   
It is clear that the full extent of human rights abuses and horror in Gaza has yet to be fully revealed. We are horrified by recent reports of the discovery of up to 300 bodies in the courtyard of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, and demand that a full investigation is carried out without delay.  
Despite the urgent and overwhelming need in Gaza, the amount of aid currently getting in remains woefully insufficient. Humanitarian relief must be drastically scaled up, immediately. Ultimately, though, what women, girls and all those trapped in Gaza desperately need is a permanent ceasefire now – it is the only way to put an end to the killing and allow aid to be safely and efficiently delivered on the enormous scale required.”  


For media requests, please email or call 202-731-9593.

Spokespeople are available:

  • Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA
  • Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine

About ActionAid   

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.   

Support Palestinians in crisis

As the human rights of people in the occupied Palestinian territories continue to be abused, women and children are especially at risk. Gaza faces a dire lack of medical facilities, schools, and homes, as so many have been hit by Israeli airstrikes. ActionAid works in communities near the border with Israel that have been most directly affected by the violence. ActionAid's women-led response is supporting the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.