UN agencies warn of dire humanitarian situation in Gaza
Geneva: United Nations (UN) agencies have warned that civilians in the Gaza Strip were going through a catastrophic situation and called on all actors to provide sufficient humanitarian assistance to avert further deterioration.
Rick Brennan, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Emergencies Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, told a press briefing here on Tuesday from Cairo that the ongoing bombardment of Gaza had resulted in over 5,000 deaths, half of which could be women and children, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said that one-third of all hospitals in Gaza were now not functioning, and people with chronic diseases were finding it more and more difficult to access the services they needed, and it was expected that their mortality rate would also increase.
According to the WHO official, an estimated 150 to 200 women were giving birth there each day, and those experiencing difficulties during delivery were at particular risk.
“Some 1.4 million people were now acutely displaced, it was unprecedented that such a large number of people had been displaced over such a short time. This was an incredibly difficult situation,” he said, adding that “There was a real worry of the spread of infectious diseases, which could be just a matter of time.”
The WHO official also stressed that having fuel was absolutely essential for the functioning of hospitals and ambulances, and WHO was pleading for a sustained, scaled-up, protected humanitarian operation.
Tamara Alrifai of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) told the briefing from Amman that since October 21, three convoys of humanitarian supplies have entered the Gaza Strip with 54 trucks.
She said that before the conflict, 500 trucks had been arriving in the Gaza Strip every day, so the 15 to 20 trucks that had arrived in Gaza per day over the previous three days were but a trickle of what was needed.
The UNRWA called for the lifting of the humanitarian siege and urged continuous and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, she said, adding that the displaced people would soon be needing winter clothes.
“Because of the overcrowding, many were sleeping in the courtyards, which would make it very difficult when the winter hit,” she said.