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As war rages, WHO says Gaza population in ‘grave peril’

The WHO also cited acute hunger and desperation across the war-torn Gaza Strip.

Geneva:

Gaza’s population is in “grave peril”, the head of the World Health Organization warned Wednesday, citing acute hunger and desperation across the war-torn Palestinian territory.

The WHO said it delivered supplies to two hospitals on Tuesday, with only 15 of the Gaza Strip’s 36 hospitals operating at any capacity.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the international community to take “urgent action to alleviate the grave peril facing the population of Gaza and which jeopardizes the ability of humanitarian workers to help those suffering from terrible injuries, acute hunger and serious risk of disease.”

In a statement, the WHO said its staff reported that “hungry people stopped our convoys again today in the hope of finding food.”

“WHO’s ability to deliver medicines, medical supplies and fuel to hospitals is increasingly limited by the hunger and desperation of the people en route to and inside the hospitals we reach.”

Gaza’s bloodiest war ever erupted when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7 and killed around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

They took 250 hostages, 129 of whom remain inside Gaza, according to Israeli officials, in the worst attack in the country’s history.

Israel launched major aerial bombardments and a siege followed by a ground invasion. The campaign killed at least 21,110 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

“The safety of our personnel and the continuity of operations depend on the immediate arrival of more food throughout Gaza,” Tedros said.

Last week’s UN Security Council resolution called for the “safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance on a large scale” – but did not call for an immediate end to the fighting.

Tedros said the resolution “seemed to give hope for an improvement in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza.”

“However, based on WHO eyewitness accounts on the ground, the resolution has unfortunately not yet had an impact.

“What we urgently need now is a ceasefire to spare civilians from further violence and begin the long road to reconstruction and peace.”

– “Stand over the patients” –

WHO teams visited two hospitals on Tuesday – Al-Shifa in the north and Al-Amal Palestinian Red Crescent in the south – to deliver supplies and assess needs on the ground.

He said 50,000 people were seeking refuge in Al-Shifa, including 14,000 in Al-Amal.

“In Al-Amal, our colleagues saw the consequences of recent strikes that disabled the hospital’s radio tower and affected the central ambulance dispatch system for the entire Khan Yunis region, affecting more than 1 .5 million people,” the WHO said.

Only five of the nine ambulances are still operational, while WHO staff said it was “impossible” to pass through the hospital “without stepping over patients and those seeking shelter.”

During their transit through Gaza, WHO staff saw “tens of thousands of people” moving around, on foot, on donkeys or in cars.

“WHO is extremely concerned about this new displacement of people which will further strain health facilities in the south, which are already struggling,” said Rik Peeperkorn, representative of the UN health agency in the Palestinian territories.

“This mass and forced movement of people will also lead to increased overcrowding, increased risk of infectious diseases and make the delivery of humanitarian aid even more difficult.

According to the latest WHO assessments, Gaza has 13 partially functioning hospitals, two that function very little and 21 that do not function at all.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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