Regional directors of the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), children’s agency UNICEF and health agency WHO have said they are “horrified” by the latest reports that many people were killed – including children – at facilities in Gaza City and other areas in the north. areas of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reports that Gaza’s second largest hospital, Al-Quds, is effectively out of service due to fuel shortages, with the NGO saying it has been unable to make sporadic contact with the establishment.
The WHO has lost communication with its contacts at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, where reports citing the Health Ministry say five injured patients died because they could not receive surgery due to lack of fuel.
Two babies in the intensive care unit were reported to have died on Saturday as water, food and electricity were cut off.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed deep concern for the safety of staff and patients caught in the crossfire on Saturday evening, noting that Israeli tanks reportedly surrounded Al Shifa.
The Israeli military has repeatedly denied that its forces are targeting hospitals, saying Hamas and other militants are using the facilities as shields, with their headquarters located below Al Shifa.
“Intense hostilities surrounding several hospitals in northern Gaza are preventing safe access for health workers, the wounded and other patients,” UNFPA’s Laila Baker, UNICEF Adele regional director, said in a statement. Khodr and Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, from WHO.
Babies are dying
“Premature babies and newborns on life support are reportedly dying due to power, oxygen and water cuts at Al-Shifa Hospital, while others are in danger. Staff at a number of hospitals are reporting a lack of fuel, water and basic medical supplies, immediately putting the lives of all patients at risk.
Over the past 36 days, WHO recorded at least 137 attacks on health care in Gaza, resulting in 521 deaths and 686 injuries, including 16 deaths and 38 injuries among health workers, regional directors said.
The world cannot remain silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, turn into scenes of death, devastation and despair.
Attacks on medical facilities and civilians are unacceptable and a violation of international law, they continued.
Right to medical assistance
“They cannot be tolerated. The right to seek medical assistance, especially in times of crisis, should never be denied,” the statement said.
More than half of hospitals in the Gaza Strip are closed while those who remain “are under enormous pressure”.
Shortages of water, food and fuel also threaten the well-being of thousands of displaced people, including women and children, housed in hospitals.
Death and despair
“The world cannot remain silent while hospitals, which should be places of refuge, turn into scenes of death, devastation and despair.
“Decisive international action is needed now to ensure an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and prevent further loss of life and preserve what remains of the health system in Gaza,” the directors said.
“Unimpeded, safe and sustainable access is now needed to provide fuel, medical supplies and water for these vital services. The violence must stop now.»
The humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Lynn Hastings, warned that the fuel not only puts lives at risk in hospitals, but that water pumps, desalination plants and wastewater treatment centers are all ” off “.
She tweeted that public health crises are emerging and “humanitarian operations will be next.”