Gaza humanitarian update WHO - OCHA - UN Women 21 June 2024
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Edited News | WHO , OCHA , UN WOMEN

Gaza humanitarian update WHO - OCHA - UN Women 21 June 2024

‘Not the right moment to be sick in Gaza’, UN aid teams warn, as deliveries remain hampered

The Israeli military’s announcement of tactical pauses in combat in southern Gaza has not produced any significant improvement in aid deliveries to desperate Gazans, amid a breakdown in public order and the worsening health situation, UN humanitarians said on Friday.

Speaking from Jerusalem, the UN World Health Organization (WHO)’s representative in the Occupied Palestinian territory, Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, reported cases of pregnant women in Gaza asking for early C-sections to make sure that they could deliver, as they were scared of being unable to access a hospital later because of the security situation.

“This humanitarian pause was not reflected on the ground,” his colleague Dr. Thanos Gargavanis, WHO trauma surgeon and emergency officer, told journalists in Geneva.

He said that “there was not a single day where we would be able to say that today, we are going to take advantage of this humanitarian pause and go forward and bring from Kerem Shalom the supplies that are waiting for us.”

Since the closure of the Rafah crossing by the Israeli authorities on 7 May, the Kerem Shalom crossing at the Strip’s southernmost tip has been the only operational aid entry point in the south of the enclave. The Israeli authorities said last Sunday that pauses in fighting would be observed along the road running north from Kerem Shalom to the city of Khan Younis. This is a crucial route for aid distribution from the border crossing further into southern and central Gaza, after over one million people were forced out of Rafah in response to the start of the Israeli ground operation there.

“Many things are said publicly, but in reality, on the ground or granular level”, nothing has really improved, Dr. Gargavanis said.

Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN’s humanitarian affairs coordination office OCHA, stressed that the lack of public order and safety is a “major obstacle” for aid delivery and “requires concerted effort and concrete measures to find a solution”.

He underscored that while the humanitarian community did reach an “understanding” with COGAT, the Israeli body responsible for the flow of aid in Gaza, for relief delivery windows, this had very little impact on the ground.

“It is the responsibility of the Israeli authorities as the occupying power to ensure that assistance reaches those who need it the most and create the enabling environment for the UN and partners to actually reach them,” he insisted.

WHO’s Dr. Peeperkorn painted a dark picture of the continuing medical emergency in the Strip compounded by the lack of aid access and of fuel for hospitals, bakeries, water desalination plants and humanitarian operations, while only 17 out of the Strip’s 36 hospitals were still partially functional.

He said that “at least” 10,000 patients are in desperate need of medical evacuation to hospitals outside of Gaza – half of them because of war-related injuries, while the other half are suffering from chronic, life-threatening conditions such as cancer.

We have two clear requests”, he said: the reopening of the Rafah crossing for aid and to ensure “safe and organized” medical evacuations; and as an alternative, the use of Kerem Shalom for safe and sustained transfers of patients from Gaza to West Bank and East Jerusalem hospitals, where some 50 to 100 patients from Gaza were referred every day before the war.

Dr. Peeperkorn also described the health effects of massive population displacement combined with the summer heat, water contamination and a rise in diseases. He deplored the “very poor water and sanitary circumstances” affecting the displaced and said that up to 25 times more diarrhoea cases had been observed compared to normal times.

“There's not a right moment to be sick in Gaza right now,” WHO’s Dr. Gargavanis warned. For humanitarians trying to bring relief to a sick and hungry population, “the combination of [the] closure of Rafah crossing, the increase of the military operations, the movement of population and the complete destruction of law and order have resulted in an unworkable environment,” he concluded.

Having just returned from Gaza, Maryse Guimond, special representative in UN Women’s Palestine Office, spoke about the dramatic effects of the war on women and girls in the enclave.

“Every woman I met has a story of loss,” she said. “More than 10,000 women lost their lives. More than 6,000 families lost their mothers. One million women and girls have lost their dignity, their homes, their families, their memories.”

Speaking from Jerusalem, Ms. Guimond described how women were particularly affected by the overcrowding and lack of access to sanitation which she witnessed, having visited a UN Palestine refugee agency (UNRWA) school in Deir al Balah in central Gaza which served as a shelter. She said that there were only 25 toilets for the 14,000 people who found refuge inside the school and 59,000 sheltering outside.

“When you visit – and I know that unfortunately, international journalists cannot – but you could see kilometres and kilometres of tents, there is no space, people are crammed,” she said.

“This definitely has an impact. And one experiences it differently as a man or as a woman.”

-ends -

 

STORY: Gaza humanitarian update WHO – OCHA – UN Women

TRT: 2:54”

SOURCE: UNTV CH 

RESTRICTIONS: NONE 

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /FRENCH / NATS 

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 

DATELINE: 21 JUNE 2024 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND 

 

1. Exterior wide shot: Palais des Nations exterior.  

2. Wide lateral shot: speaker at the podium of the press conference from behind; speaker on screen; journalists in the Press room.

3. SOUNDBITE (English) – Dr. Thanos Gargavanis, trauma surgeon and emergency officer, World Health Organization (WHO): “This humanitarian pause was not reflected on the ground. There was not a single day where we would be able to say that today, we are going to take advantage of this humanitarian pause and go forward and bring from Kerem Shalom the supplies that are waiting for us. So, many things are said publicly, but in reality, on the ground or granular level, nothing gets real.”

4. Wide lateral shot: Speakers at podium from behind; journalists in the Press room.

5. SOUNDBITE (English) – Jens Laerke, spokesperson, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “The lack of public order and safety is also a major obstacle and requires concerted effort and concrete measures to find a solution. And it is the responsibility of the Israeli authorities as the occupying power to ensure that assistance reaches those who need it the most and create the enabling environment for the UN and partners to actually reach them.”

6. Wide shot: Speaker on screens; journalists in the Press room.

7. SOUNDBITE (English) – Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, Representative in the Occupied Palestinian territory, World Health Organization (WHO): “We have two clear requests from this. One is again, the opening of the Rafah crossing and help to ensure a safe and organized med evac [medical evacuation] – WHO is ready for that. The other one, as I think a really good alternative, that we use Kerem Shalom again, only that it's safe for sustained transfer of patients from Gaza to the West Bank and East Jerusalem referral hospitals.”

8. Wide lateral shot: Speakers at podium from behind; speaker on screens; journalists in the Press room.

9. SOUNDBITE (English) – Dr. Thanos Gargavanis, trauma surgeon and emergency officer, World Health Organization (WHO): “Right now, what happens in Gaza is that the United Nations are trying to operate in an unworkable environment. Right now, the combination of [the] closure of Rafah crossing, the increase of the military operations, the movement of population and the complete destruction of law and order have resulted in an unworkable environment.

10. Wide shot: Speaker on screens; journalists in the Press room.

11. SOUNDBITE (English) – Dr. Thanos Gargavanis, trauma surgeon and emergency officer, World Health Organization (WHO): “On the summer temperatures and the rise of, the spike of the disease that we see, there's not a right moment to be sick in Gaza right now.”

12. Wide lateral shot: Speaker on screens, journalists in the Press room.

13. SOUNDBITE (French) – Maryse Guimond, Special Representative, Palestine Office, UN Women: “Je pensais à l’école que j’ai visitée de l’UNRWA qui est un centre d’hébergement en même temps où il y a 14,000 personnes à l’intérieur de l’école et 59,000 autour, et il y a quelque chose comme 25 toilettes. Donc on peut réaliser les impacts que ça a.”

14. Wide lateral shot: Speakers at podium from behind; speaker on screens; journalists in the Press room.

15. SOUNDBITE (French) – Maryse Guimond, Special Representative, Palestine Office, UN Women: “Quand on visite, et je sais malheureusement que les journalistes internationaux ne peuvent pas, mais sinon on voyait des kilomètres et des kilomètres de tentes, il n’y a pas d’espace, les gens sont entassés. Et ceci définitivement a un impact. Et se vit différemment si on est un homme ou si on est une femme.”

16. Wide lateral shot: Speaker on screens, journalists in the Press room.


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