NewsHumanitarian Crisis in Gaza Escalates Amidst Ongoing Conflict

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Escalates Amidst Ongoing Conflict

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The health care crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented levels of severity, surpassing the grim standards set by war-ravaged regions. Infectious diseases, ranging from chickenpox to cholera, are rampant among the population, exacerbated by blocked medical supplies at the border and overwhelmed hospitals grappling with critically wounded patients.

As Israel’s four-month-long conflict with Hamas persists, the situation is on the brink of deterioration. The prospect of an Israeli invasion into Rafah poses a grave threat to over a million Palestinians seeking refuge in the southern city, predominantly women and children. The breakdown of U.S.-brokered cease-fire talks in Cairo this week adds to the dwindling hope for a humanitarian respite. Furthermore, the U.S. has frozen funding to the main United Nations aid agency in Gaza, intensifying the challenges in providing crucial medical aid.

Mai al-Kaila, the Minister of Health for the Palestinian Authority, expressed the gravity of the health issue, citing the overwhelming number of daily injuries and the shortage of safe treatment spaces. The Palestinian Ministry of Health estimates a staggering toll of over 28,000 Gazans killed, with 70 percent being women and children, and an additional 8,000 believed to be missing under the rubble.

Saleem Zaru, Executive Director of the United Palestinian Appeal (UAP), highlighted the diminishing functionality of Gaza’s hospitals, emphasizing that only a fraction of them are currently operational. Non-governmental organizations in the region estimate that around 13 hospitals, a third of the pre-conflict capacity, are operating to some extent.

The blockade imposed by Israel is hindering on-the-ground efforts by NGOs to deliver resources into Gaza. A significant reduction in the number of trucks allowed into the region has impeded the flow of essential supplies. The dire shortage of medical products, including insulin and blood, coupled with a lack of testing facilities, has left infections undiagnosed and allowed diseases to spread more easily.

As the Biden administration urges Israel to allow increased humanitarian aid into Gaza, concerns grow about potential mass outbreaks. Amani Mustafa, Country Director of Women for Women International, reported disease outbreaks, including cases of diarrhea affecting more than 161,000 individuals, particularly children under 5 years old.

The potential Israeli offensive on Rafah raises alarms, further endangering the million-plus Palestinians seeking refuge in the city. The Biden administration has issued warnings to ensure Israel devises a safety plan for citizens in Rafah, emphasizing the potential for a significant loss of life.

Compounding the humanitarian crisis is the freeze of U.S. funding to the UNRWA, the main United Nations aid agency in Gaza, based on allegations of involvement in the Oct. 7, 2023 attack by 12 UNRWA employees. The halt in funding has significantly impeded the group’s ongoing aid efforts, with calls for the U.S. to reconsider its decision and revise its stance from humanitarian perspectives.

The situation in Gaza remains dire, with growing concerns of a widespread outbreak and an urgent need for international intervention to alleviate the suffering of the population caught in the midst of a protracted conflict.

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