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On Friday 24 May, Italian newspaper il fatto quotidiano published an interview with Vittorio Bruni (a DPhil student and researcher in Migration Studies at the RSC and COMPAS, University of Oxford) regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Independently, Bruni has looked at the data available on Gaza and compared it with that for conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine.

In the interview, he states that “The numbers on Gaza are much more catastrophic than those of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria or Ukraine. There are two main reasons for this: first, the Palestinian people cannot escape. … In addition, there is a comparatively limited humanitarian presence in Gaza. Usually, as soon as a conflict breaks out, UN agencies and NGOs send personnel and resources to assist the population. In Gaza, given the killings of UN workers by the Israeli armed forces, it is hard to send enough personnel to the field. In Gaza, 157 civilians are killed per day, while in Syria 96 were killed, in Sudan 52, and in Ukraine 44.”

When asked about the number of children killed in Gaza compared with those killed in conflicts elsewhere, Bruni says: “In Syria, 3 children were killed per day, and until today this was the conflict of the 21st century with the most child victims per day, followed by Afghanistan (2), Yemen (1.5), Ukraine (0.7) and Iraq (0.6). In Gaza, 66 children have been killed every 24 hours, 22 times more than in the conflict with the most children killed in the last 20 years. A very high price is also paid by journalists and UN staff. Never before had so many workers in these sectors lost their lives in a single conflict in a single year.”

The interview also looks at the humanitarian situation, and the comparative data regarding food and water, with Bruni stating that “Civilians in Gaza are slowly dying of hunger and thirst. Usually, in normal situations, we use 20 litres of water per day per person, in emergency contexts we try to provide 15, while the litres of water needed for survival are 3 in 24 hours. In Gaza, civilians live on about 1.5 litres of water a day. From the point of view of hunger, the UN has been using a scale called IPC since 2004. The percentage of hungry people in Gaza is the highest ever recorded by IPC in any area or country in the world since it has been in use.”

Regarding the data on displacement, Bruni says that: “at the beginning of February 2024, 75% of the population of Gaza had been displaced from their homes (1.7 out of 2.3 million). These civilians found themselves living in tent cities, UN facilities, schools, and public buildings. In these places people live crowded together, without water and with one latrine for every 600 people (in humanitarian emergencies we try to build one for every 20). Analysis by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) shows that the various reception centres are becoming hotbeds of epidemics.”

And finally, the interview touched on the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Bruni states that “In the first 4 months of the conflict, more infrastructure was destroyed in Gaza than in the battle for Aleppo which lasted from 2013 to 2016, and more than was destroyed in 2017 to defeat ISIS in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria. Satellite images show that by the end of January 2024, between 50% and 61% of civilian buildings had been destroyed or damaged. More than 500 schools were damaged, more than 80% of the total.”