Conflicts & War

UN warns of disease outbreaks in Gaza amid overstretched health services

Geneva, Nov 30 (EFE).- The United Nations on Thursday warned against the potential outbreaks of infectious and communicable diseases, including hepatitis, in Gaza as health services have “overstretched” in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

“There have been significant increases in some communicable diseases and conditions such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, skin infections, and hygiene-related conditions like lice,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“There are also initial reports of disease outbreaks, including hepatitis,” the agency said in its daily update on the Gaza situation.

The surge in diseases is mainly due to the disruption of health, water, and sanitation systems, as well as severe overcrowding in UN-managed shelters accommodating around one million internally displaced persons.

Health organizations have documented over 111,000 cases of acute respiratory infection, 36,000 cases of diarrhea in children under five, and 24,000 cases of skin rash since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7.

Despite a humanitarian pause in clashes, residents in northern Gaza still lack access to clean water, leading to increased outbreaks of dehydration and waterborne diseases due to consuming water from “unsafe sources.”

It said the health system across the Gaza Strip continued to be overstretched amid severe shortage of medical supplies.

On Nov. 29, humanitarian aid convoys were able to reach the northern parts of Gaza, currently occupied by Israel, providing assistance, including supplies for two of the few hospitals still functioning.

Currently, only five hospitals are operational in northern Gaza, compared to the pre-crisis number of 24.

Although the ceasefire has facilitated increased aid deliveries to Gaza, the UN emphasized that the current level of aid remains “completely inadequate to meet the huge needs” of more than two million people in the strip.

Since the conflict began, 1.8 million people, nearly 80 percent of Gaza’s population, have been displaced. Sixty percent of housing units across the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged, according to UN data.

During the pause in hostilities, on Nov. 27 and 28, rescuers were able to recover 160 bodies from the rubble of destroyed buildings, it said.

Citing data from Gaza officials, the UN said since the start of hostilities, more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including about 6,150 children and 4,000 women.

While hostilities have largely ceased since the ceasefire on Nov. 24, the UN noted violence involving Israeli forces in Gaza, including incidents of soldiers firing towards displaced persons attempting to return to their homes in northern Gaza, resulting in several casualties. EFE

abc/bks/ssk

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