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'The scale of the tragedy': 40,000 flags erected in Vancouver park to represent civilian deaths in Gaza

The United Nations estimates roughly 70 per cent of fatalities are of women and children.

Forty thousand red, white, black and green flags were erected in a popular Vancouver park to symbolize the number of civilians who have died in Gaza during the war with Israel. 

Over 100 community members placed the miniature Palestinian flags in Devonian Park in Vancouver's West End on Saturday morning over two hours.

Vancouver Palestinian organizer and community advocate Tamer Abu-Ramadan says the installation serves as a powerful display of the enormity of the loss of life in the overseas conflict. 

"A raw number doesn't get the impact across," he tells V.I.A. "It doesn't show the scale of the tragedy."

Each tiny flag, composed of recycled materials, represents a civilian life lost in Gaza since October 2023. The United Nations estimates roughly 70 per cent of fatalities are of women and children.

Locals engage with Palestinian flag installation in Vancouver park

When people passed the installation on Saturday, many of them stopped to engage with it. 

"The reactions by the community were so powerful and so moving," Abu-Ramadan noted.

But the magnitude of the suffering extends much further than what the flags show.

An additional 70,000 people living in Gaza have "life-threatening injuries, with limited access to health care and aid," the community group notes in a press release. 

“This is a demonstration to represent the conscience of many Canadians, the majority of whom are urging the government to demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and to end arms exports," said Abu-Ramadan.

Abu-Ramadan, who is from Gaza and has family living there, is now calling on the city to make a permanent installation. The display was intact until about 6 p.m. on Saturday and then police instructed the demonstrators to take it down.

A few flags remain near the park but most have been removed. 

This Vancouver installation is similar to other displays across Canada and elsewhere, including in Portland and London.