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Refugees Fleeing Gaza to Egypt Would Derail Efforts for a Ceasefire: UN Refugee Chief

April 12, 2024


The possibility of Gazans crossing into Egypt from the border town of Rafah would render the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unresolvable and present a “dilemma” for those going into exile, the U.N. refugee director stated on Friday, 12 April.

Filippo Grandi, UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees, declares that “we must do everything” to prevent such a demographic exodus from Gaza.

“I can assure you that another refugee crisis from Gaza into Egypt would make the resolution of the Palestinian refugee question as a consequence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible,” Grandi told Reuters at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.

What is Happening at Egypt’s Rafah Crossing?

Since October 2023, Israel has urged Palestinians in Rafah to relocate to Egypt. Israeli Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht, speaking to Reuters on October 9, advised Gaza residents to leave via the Rafah crossing.

Yet, Egypt has consistently emphasized that the forced displacement of Palestinians is a “red line,” warning that it would devastate Palestinian communities and disregard their right of return.

Since November 1, 2023, Egypt has allowed over 2,200 injured Palestinians to cross through the Rafah border for medical care, and numerous aid trucks have entered Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

About half of Gaza’s prewar population, which stood at 2.3 million people, has been displaced to Rafah. International pressure is cautioning Israel against invading Rafah.

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