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The Gaza crisis has resulted in newborn babies being brought into a desperate situation without proper assistance, described as a living hell due to shortages in aid.
Middle East World News

The Gaza crisis has resulted in newborn babies being brought into a desperate situation without proper assistance, described as a living hell due to shortages in aid.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reiterated the urgent need for a ceasefire and reported that there have been almost 20,000 births since the beginning of Israel’s extensive bombing in response to attacks by Hamas in Israel. The attacks have resulted in approximately 1,200 deaths and around 250 people being held hostage.

According to the UN agency, ongoing difficulties in obtaining aid have resulted in the use of anaesthesia-free Caesarean sections and prevented some women from delivering their stillborn infants due to overwhelmed medical personnel.

According to UNICEF Communications Specialist Tess Ingram, mothers encounter numerous obstacles in obtaining sufficient healthcare, nourishment, and safety during the stages of pregnancy and after childbirth.

The birth of a child is typically a joyful occasion, but in Gaza, it is another innocent life brought into a war-torn environment.

Hepatitis shock

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed grave worries about the worsening humanitarian crisis, stating that he was deeply troubled by the confirmation of hepatitis A cases in Gaza.

On Thursday, Tedros, using the platform formerly known as Twitter, expressed concern that the lack of basic amenities such as clean water, toilets, and a clean environment could lead to the rapid spread of hepatitis A, demonstrating the severity of the unsanitary living conditions.

According to recent statistics from the World Health Organization, approximately 500 individuals are using a single toilet, and over 2,000 people must share one shower, which increases the likelihood of diseases being transmitted.

The UN health agency reported a significant increase in upper respiratory infections and cases of diarrhoea among children under the age of five during the last quarter of 2023, with a 26-fold rise compared to the same time period in 2022.

According to WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic, individuals are being forced into increasingly cramped living spaces, often residing in crowded shelters without access to clean water or toilets.

A significant portion of the population in Gaza, who have been injured and affected by bombings, are in urgent need of medical assistance. According to the WHO representative, the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis currently has only two doctors working in its emergency department, a significant decrease from the previous 24. The number of available intensive care beds has also decreased from 45 to 14, and only four out of the initial 20 nurses are currently available.

Some relief

UNICEF has provided assistance to the most at-risk women and children in Gaza by delivering milk formula and supplements to mothers who are unable to breastfeed due to weakness. They have also supplied medical resources to support overwhelmed medical staff, but there is still a significant need for additional aid.

Ms. Ingram, speaking from Amman, Jordan, shared her experience after returning from southern Gaza. She expressed concern for the staff at Emirati Hospital in Rafah, who were forced to discharge mothers within three hours of a Caesarean due to overwhelming conditions. This situation is alarming and demands immediate attention.

After 105 days of the war’s commencement, she emphasized that the continuous bombing and displacement have a direct effect on newborns, leading to increased rates of undernourishment, developmental problems, and other health complications.

‘Inhumane’ conditions

Ms. Ingram stated that an estimated 135,000 children under the age of two are currently facing the threat of severe malnutrition due to deplorable living conditions such as makeshift shelters, inadequate nutrition, and contaminated water. These conditions have been described as inhumane.

“It is important for us to recognize the suffering of newborn babies and mothers who bleed to death, as it should keep us up at night,” she expressed. “We must also acknowledge that two young Israeli children who were abducted on October 7th have yet to be returned, which should also keep us awake.”

Deadly toll nears 25,000

Repeating these worries, the United Nations human rights office, OHCHR, conveyed serious alarm over information that approximately 25,000 individuals have been documented as deceased, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. A significant 70% are thought to be females and children, and an additional 61,500 have suffered injuries while “several thousands more are buried under debris, with many presumed deceased”.

The most recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed serious worries about the hindrances imposed by Israel on the import of necessary equipment, such as communication devices, which greatly impact the safety and effectiveness of relief efforts in Gaza.

Palestinian civil defence responders search the rubble of a building in the aftermath of an air strike in the Gaza Strip. (file)

Palestinian emergency responders are combing through the debris of a building following an aerial attack in the Gaza Strip. (file)

The UN office stated that the Israeli military’s refusal to grant access to areas north of Wadi Gaza has hindered attempts to increase the distribution of critical aid and has resulted in significant expenses for the overall response.

Pressure-cooker environment

Speaking to reporters in Geneva from Gaza, Ajith Sunghay, the leader of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, stated that a large number of displaced individuals are still arriving in Rafah, amounting to thousands.

“I have witnessed males and minors excavating for bricks in order to secure makeshift tents constructed from plastic bags,” he expressed. “This is a severe violation of human rights and a significant, man-made, humanitarian catastrophe. Gaza requires immediate intensification of humanitarian assistance, particularly in terms of protective measures.”

According to Mr. Sunghay, the telecommunications blackout has been ongoing for several days. He stressed that this has only worsened the confusion and fear among Gazans as it has made it difficult for them to access necessary services and information regarding evacuation.

The OHCHR representative described the current situation as a highly stressful and chaotic environment, amid severe shortages and widespread feelings of fear and anger. They also reported that the intense bombing in Middle Gaza and Khan Younis could be clearly seen and heard from Rafah, particularly during nighttime.

Upon his arrival in Gaza on Monday, Mr. Sunghay reported hearing frequent bombings throughout the day, sometimes occurring multiple times per hour. He also noted that the night-time was the most terrifying for Gazans, including the 100+ civilians who are currently being held captive in the enclave. These civilians are unseen but undoubtedly experience the same sounds and fear.