The heads of numerous United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organisations have said that they would not take part in Gaza’s “safe zones” declared by only one side of the conflict, AFP reports.

“As humanitarian leaders, our position is clear: We will not participate in the establishment of any ‘safe zone’ in Gaza that is set up without the agreement of all the parties,” they said in a joint statement.

“Under the prevalent conditions, proposals to unilaterally create ‘safe zones’ in Gaza risk creating harm for civilians, including large-scale loss of life, and must be rejected.”

The statement, signed by nearly a dozen heads of UN agencies — including humanitarian affairs, human rights, migration, refugees, children, and health — highlighted that the “intense hostilities and large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure” had already displaced nearly 1.6 million people in Gaza.

“None of the humanitarian organisations we represent has been involved in preparing for the arrival of displaced people in any prospective ‘safe zone’ — or ‘humanitarian zone’ — in Gaza,” the statement said.

The organisations were all committed to providing assistance and protection, they said, but warned that “without the right conditions, concentrating civilians in such zones in the context of active hostilities can raise the risk of attack and additional harm.”

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