Skip to content

Urgent International Mobilisation for Palestinian Women and Girls in Gaza Needed

Media Statement – For Immediate Publication

Kuala Lumpur, 30 MAY 2024

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) stands in solidarity with the women and girls of Gaza, who are enduring an escalating humanitarian crisis amidst ongoing genocide. The situation in Gaza is severe, with 4 out of 5 Gazans facing hunger and starvation, according to the World Food Programme, and the risk of famine is high. We call for the international community to demand for an end to the genocide now so that humanitarian aid can reach thousands of women and girls in need.

Before October 2023, 80% of Gaza’s population was already in need of humanitarian aid, with 1.7 million people registered as refugees (UNFPA, 2024). This dire situation, rooted in longstanding challenges since the Nakba in 1948, has only worsened over the past seven months.Over the past seven months, Rafah’s population has swelled, severely straining resources and infrastructure. The physical and mental health conditions of women and girls have deteriorated rapidly, with a significant number of women and girls having suffered from attacks, displacement, and social and economic disruptions.

With nowhere to escape the relentless bombing and violence, more than 10,000 women have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, including 6,000 mothers, leaving 19,000 children orphaned. One 45-year-old woman’s words resonate deeply: “There is no safety or security. I am scared for my life, my husband’s, and my children. If I were to talk about it for the next 100 years, I cannot describe the fear we live in.” (UN Women’s Data on Rafah, 2024). 

As of 5 March 2024, UN Women’s survey data illuminates the harrowing reality faced by women and girls in Rafah:

  • Overcrowded Conditions: Rafah now hosts 700,000 women and girls who have no safe place to go. A staggering 93% of women respondents feel unsafe within their own homes or in displacement locations.
  • Mental Health Crisis: Over 80% of women report feelings of depression, 66% are unable to sleep, and over 70% experience heightened anxiety and nightmares.
  • Health Care Deficiencies: More than half of the women surveyed (51%) have medical conditions requiring urgent attention, but 62% are unable to afford necessary care.
  • Pregnancy Complications: Over 60% of pregnant women have reported complications, including 95% with urinary tract infections, 80% with anemia, 30% with pre-term labour, and 50% with hypertensive disorders. Nursing mothers face significant challenges in breastfeeding and meeting their babies’ nutritional needs.
  • Increased Burden on Women: Women in Rafah struggle to protect their children’s physical and mental well-being while bearing increased caregiving and domestic responsibilities. In tents and overcrowded households, 79% of respondents stated that mothers are taking on more responsibility than men to provide emotional support for their families.

Additionally, women in conflict are always at higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The chaotic environment, lack of protection and breakdown of social structures exacerbate the vulnerability of women and girls to SGBV. Numerous reports have emerged of women being subjected to sexual violence, exploitation, and abuse amidst the conflict, further compounding their suffering.

WAO urges the international community to prioritise the needs and rights of Palestinian women and girls, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution 2728 which demands an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid. Additionally, we call for actively supporting the end to the occupation of the Palestinian state, addressing the fundamental causes of their suffering. We must ensure that the voices of Palestinian women are heard, their rights upheld, and their suffering addressed.

This fundamental human rights of all persons, including women and children refugees and displaced persons, must be protected and upheld. We call on the government to urgently provide better protection for refugees and displaced persons including women and children in Malaysia. We urge Malaysia to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to ensure comprehensive protection and rights for all refugees and displaced persons within its borders. Our international stance on Palestine must be consistent with internal policies that uphold basic human rights, decent living conditions and safety against sexual and gender based violence to refugees within the country. 

* Estimates by UN Women based on data from the Gaza Media Office. Pregnancy estimates from the UN Population Fund. Supporting data from World Food Programme and UNFPA. 


Back To Top