As the only remaining hospital closes in northern Gaza, injured patients are left to suffer and potentially face death due to increasing levels of severe hunger. The situation has been described as catastrophic.
The most recent serious evaluation from the World Health Organization (WHO) occurred after United Nations teams arrived at Al Ahli Arab hospital and Al Shifa hospital on Wednesday. There have been reports of increased ground operations by the Israeli Defense Forces and ongoing airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas’s terror attacks on southern Israel on October 7.
Sean Casey, the coordinator for the WHO Emergency Medical Teams, recounted the distressing situation at Al Ahli Arab hospital. According to him, patients were not only expressing their pain, but also pleading for water as the medical staff faced challenges with shortages of food, fuel, and water.
The current state of the hospital resembles a hospice rather than a traditional hospital, as the level of care provided by the doctors and nurses is insufficient. It is distressing to witness patients with casts on several limbs and external fixators, without access to drinking water or enough IV fluids.
Currently, it is a location where individuals await their demise, unless we are able to transfer them to a secure area where they can receive proper treatment.
Guterres aid call
Bringing attention to the urgent need for addressing the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated on Thursday that ongoing conflicts, power outages, scarce fuel, and disrupted communication have greatly hindered the UN’s ability to deliver crucial aid to those living in the region.
“The UN Secretary-General stressed the urgency of re-establishing conditions that would enable large-scale humanitarian operations,” stated a tweet.
A dangerous mission was carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ aid coordination office, OCHA, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), and the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) to deliver seven pallets of essential medicines, intravenous fluids, surgical supplies, and equipment for childbirth to northern Gaza.
Although the delivery of medical supplies to the northern region is crucial in providing relief to patients, the increasingly prevalent shortage of food and water is a more pressing concern.
“We are currently facing a shortage. The available food is not sufficient, and I have encountered numerous hungry individuals in Gaza during my interactions with people. Mr. Casey addressed reporters in Geneva, stressing the urgency of the situation. The hunger crisis is affecting people of all ages, and it is becoming unbearable. Even in hospitals, I have witnessed patients asking for food. One particular incident stood out when a patient with an open wound and fracture requested food. This is a clear indication of the dire desperation being experienced.”
The threat of famine is increasing as hunger reaches catastrophic levels, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
A new report on food security published by humanitarian organizations, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP), reveals that over 25% of households in Gaza are currently experiencing severe hunger.
Information gathered from the IPC report verifies that there is a potential for famine in the destroyed enclave, unless there is a restoration of access to sufficient food, safe water, and essential health and sanitation services.
The IPC platform utilizes data analysis to assess the severity and scale of hunger crises, following scientifically-accepted standards.
These statistics indicate that the total population of Gaza, approximately 2.2 million individuals, is currently experiencing a state of crisis or even more severe levels of acute food insecurity.
This information shows that 26% of Gaza’s population (576,600 individuals) have used up all their resources and abilities to cope, and are now at risk of extreme hunger (IPC Phase 5) and starvation.
The Executive Director, Cindy McCain, stated that WFP has been warning about the upcoming disaster for several weeks. Unfortunately, due to the lack of reliable access that we have been requesting, the situation is dire and no one in Gaza is immune to the threat of starvation.
The International Peace Conference (IPC) has warned that if the current state of intense conflict and limited humanitarian access continues, there is a high chance of a famine happening in the next six months.
“The figures represent more than just numerical data – they represent real individuals, including children, women, and men,” stated Arif Husain, Chief Economist of the WFP. “The unprecedented complexity, magnitude, and speed of this crisis cannot be ignored.”
The United Nations health agency reports that out of 36 health facilities in Gaza, only nine are operating at partial capacity, with all of them being situated in the southern region.
Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO Representative and current acting UN humanitarian coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, stated from Jerusalem that the lack of fuel, power, medical supplies, and health workers, including surgeons and other specialists, has resulted in the cessation of operating theatres in the north.
At Al Ahli Arab hospital approximately 10 staff – “all junior doctors and nurses” – have continued to provide basic first aid to some 80 patients now sheltering in a church within the hospital grounds, Dr. Peeperkorn explained. “Some of them are severely injured and have been waiting for surgery for two weeks or have been operated on but are now at risk of post-operation infection due to lack of antibiotics and other drugs. All these patients cannot move and need to be transferred urgently, to have a chance to survive.”
continue in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, with at least 50 people killed and many more injured
Fighting and intense airstrikes persist in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, resulting in a death toll of at least 50 people and numerous injuries.
In the most recent update from the UN aid office OCHA regarding the crisis, it was reported that extensive bombings by Israel from air, land, and sea have persisted in Gaza on Wednesday.
The heaviest bombardment occurred in Beit Lahiya and various parts of Gaza city in the northern region. In the southern region, it was reported in eastern Khan Younis and both the eastern and western areas of Rafah city.
According to OCHA, there were “significant military activities” and ongoing conflicts between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in the northern part of Gaza, Gaza City, the central area, and Khan Younis. Palestinian armed groups also launched rockets into Israel.
According to the latest numbers released by OCHA, the health authorities in Gaza reported that 19,667 Palestinians have lost their lives since October 7th. It is estimated that 70% of these casualties were women and children. Additionally, over 52,586 individuals have been wounded, with many more still missing and presumed to be buried under the debris.
According to the latest report from the UN, it was also mentioned that two Israeli soldiers lost their lives in Gaza on the dates of 19 and 20 December. OCHA stated that the Israeli military has reported a total of 134 casualties and 740 injuries among their soldiers since the beginning of their ground operations in Gaza.
New evacuation order
The most recent update has also alerted the public to a mandatory evacuation notice issued by the Israeli military on December 20th for 20% of central and southern Khan Younis city. This area was identified on a social media map and is home to a population of approximately 111,542 people, including 32 shelters housing 141,451 internally displaced persons who had previously been displaced from the northern region.