Conflicts & War

UN warns of public health disaster in Gaza amid mass displacement

Geneva, Dec 13 (EFE).- The Gaza Strip is facing a public health disaster, the United Nations warned Wednesday, due to a collapsing health system and the outbreaks of infectious diseases resulting from overcrowding.

“We all know that the healthcare system is or has collapsed. We have got a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster,” said Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Speaking at a UN press briefing in Geneva via video link, Hastings said that almost half of Gaza’s 2.2 million population was now concentrated in Rafah, a small area in the southeast of the besieged enclave.

“This is leading to nothing but a health crisis, with only one third of the hospitals (…) partially functioning,” she said.

The “massive displacement” was also jeopardizing humanitarian operations in southern parts of the enclave, she said.

“The shelters have long ago exceeded their full capacity, with people lining up for hours just to get to a toilet. One toilet available for hundreds of people. You can imagine what the sanitation conditions are like as a result,” Hastings said.

She noted that the UN’s health partners have recorded around 360,000 cases of infectious diseases, including diarrhea and respiratory infections, mostly affecting children.

Hastings said almost half of the people in northern Gaza and one third in the south were suffering from “severe levels of hunger.”

The UN official called for an increase in the entry of humanitarian aid and commercial goods to prevent “a malnutrition crisis” in the besieged territory.

She added that in northern Gaza, where more than 300,000 people live, people are only receiving 1.8 liters of clean water per person per day, compared to an international minimum standard of 15 liters.

“That includes to be able to wash, that is for sanitation, hygiene, but also to be able to cook and drink,” Hastings said.

“We absolutely need a ceasefire. This is the only way forward. Right now, what is happening on the ground is not going to bring peace and security to Palestinians or Israelis,” she said. EFE

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