Terrified families returning to Gaza’s north: “We would rather die in dignity in our own homes”


ActionAid hears from families in southern Gaza, who after days of sleeping in the streets without access to food, water or medicine, make the heartbreaking decision to return home to Northern Gaza 


The humanitarian situation in the besieged territory is catastrophic and entirely avoidable. More than 500 people were killed at Gaza’s Al Ahli Arab Hospital, and six people died in the deadly strike on an UNRWA school yesterday. Today, Israel also targeted the only operational bakery in the south where most took refuge, feeding hundreds of Palestinian. Those incidents are violations of humanitarian law – which leaves no safe place of refuge for desperate families and deprives them from accessing life essential facilities and treatment. Air raids and bombings continue around the clock in all areas of Gaza, and vital supplies are running out. With no ceasefire, an ongoing siege and a looming ground offensive, there is no guarantee for the safety of millions of people. ActionAid calls for an immediate ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor to deliver lifesaving aid to a population in desperate need. 

Wisam Shweiki, Head of Programmes at ActionAid Palestine, explains:  

“We have spoken to people who followed the evacuation orders to move and are sleeping on the streets in southern Gaza. They have decided to return to their homes in the North – because they say they would rather die with dignity in their own homes than on the streets. The situation is horrific. Anyone who tries to move in the north, or the south of Gaza is exposed to bombing – nowhere is safe.

“We are working with local partners on the ground who are doing their best in a difficult situation to provide food and other relief items to families that they can reach in the shelters, but access to supplies is limited and transportation to the shelters is challenging and dangerous for those who are working on the ground.


“But we cannot afford to lose hope – because if we lose hope many innocent souls will lose their lives, so we are doing all that we can.” 

This humanitarian situation is entirely avoidable. ActionAid is calling on world leaders to step up and demand an immediate end to bombing or any further escalation. 


Adham Yaghi, youth activist, Gaza, spoke to ActionAid from Gaza: “In Gaza dead people stay under the rubble. With ongoing bombing, the emergency workers can’t remove them. People have fled their homes to the UNRWA schools. They sleep without blankets, without pillows, without water, without food. People are going to die from bombing, from thirst, from fear or from terror.  

But hope will never die. I want to tell my friends and family that I can’t get in touch with, that I’m still alive. I don’t understand how the world is not understanding and not trying to stop all these crimes that are happening.” 

Al Awda Health and Community Association, an ActionAid partner organisation in Gaza said: “The facilities of Al Awda, its hospitals and staff, will continue to carry out their humanitarian mission despite all threats. The targeting of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, killing more than 500 and injuring thousands of unarmed civilians who took shelter in search of security and safety is a heinous crime.

“The health system in Gaza is close to taking its last breath, as it is threatened with complete shutdown and paralysis due to the lack of fuel needed to operate electrical generators, the lack of beds necessary to treat patient’s wounds and the acute shortage of medical supplies.” 


As world leaders intensify their focus on the catastrophe in Gaza, some making high-profile visits to the region, ActionAid urgently calls on them to employ all available means to stop the bombing, ensure a ceasefire is in place, de-escalate the violence and protect civilians, particularly women and children. The time for action is now. 


For more information and interviews with ActionAid spokespeople, please contact: Milly Atkinson Handley, [email protected] / 0414860238