'We escaped death several times': How cancer patient fled from war in Gaza to safety in UAE

Now getting treatment in Abu Dhabi, Rana is undergoing weekly chemotherapy with continuous follow-ups with her orthopaedics and neurologists


Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Published: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 3:12 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 10:53 PM

Rana Riad is one of the Palestinian cancer patients who was evacuated from Gaza to the United Arab Emirates, part of the pledge that was made by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed AlNahyan to transport and treat 1,000 cancer patients in the UAE.

Rana is a 48-year-old cancer patient who used to reside in Gaza. She is married with four kids, three sons and a daughter. She is diagnosed with bladder cancer and was accompanied by her older son Abdulrahman for her travel to the UAE.

Her go-to hospital in Gaza was destroyed amidst the war. Due to her critical condition, she was listed to be transported to the UAE. “The only cancer-specialized hospital in Gaza was bombed and my name was included for travel as my condition was said to be critical. I am thankful for the UAE and the Red Crescent for providing medical assistance to us.”

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Gaza remains strictly closed, with limited food, water and electricity entering its borders. For Rana, leaving Gaza was a dream. “We left Gaza miraculously and escaped death several times. It was as if death was chasing us everywhere we went. Before leaving, we had attempted to settle in the southern governorate. Luckily, it was throughout the ceasefire that we weren’t bombed and could take a breath of fresh air."

The death toll of the war has reached nearly 29,000. “Throughout the war, we saw our homes being demolished. It started from my home and then my sister’s home. But it wasn’t only about our homes, it was our dearest relatives and friends. We are here, but we always think of our people over there, the never-ending feeling of anxiety towards losing someone. We only have nostalgia and memories. We don’t want to lose them too.”

When asked specifically about her life in Gaza and her family’s situation, Rana said: “My family can’t find safety and security. They live right at the place of war. I have lost so many relatives and my own home, I have nothing left. No life, no home and no idea of a stable future."

Rana is now in the UAE, feeling safe and grateful to be here around its people. She said, “The minute I arrived, I felt the love and the empathy people had for our suffering. I saw the helping hand and welcoming nature of our Emirati brothers and sisters. They would always tell us, 'You are not alone, we are all next to you'. I've been in Abu Dhabi for some time now and I still can't believe that I’m here.”

Now getting treatment at Burjeel Hospital, Rana is undergoing weekly chemotherapy with continuous follow-ups with her orthopaedics and neurologists.


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