Denials of access, delays, and impediments continue in Gaza: World Health Organization

Between mid-October and end of March, over half of WHO missions denied, delayed, impeded, or postponed, says WHO representative

Humanitarian operations in Gaza continue to face denials of access, delays, impediments, and multiple dangers amid the ongoing conflict, said the World Health Organization representative in the occupied Palestinian territories on Friday.

“The de-confliction mechanism is not working,” said Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, who represents the UN agency, referring to its efforts to navigate through the months-long conflict, which began last Oct. 7.

“Between mid-October and the end of March, over half of all WHO missions have been denied, delayed, impeded, or postponed,” Peeperkorn told a UN press conference in Geneva.

He said that in Gaza, with a population of over 2 million, only 11 hospitals are partially functional – five in the north and six in the south – and 25 are not functional at all.

On April 10, the WHO and its partners visited Nasser Medical Complex, one of the biggest in Gaza, along with Al Aqsa Hospital, in the middle of the strip, and Al-Khair.

“All three hospitals are completely non-functional due to destruction from hostilities and attacks,” said Peeperkorn. “These facilities have no oxygen supply, water, electricity, or sewage system.”

“The destruction in Khan Younis (in southern Gaza) is disproportionate to anything one can imagine,” he said. “No building or road is intact; there is only rubble and dirt. The WHO warehouse in Khan Younis is severely destroyed due to hostilities in its vicinity.”

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Gaza, Jamie McGoldrick, also highlighted the dire hospital situation.

“As you know, only 10 out of the 35 hospitals are working, and barely two-thirds of the primary health care centers are no longer working either. So we face a real dramatic situation ahead of us,” he told a separate press conference.

“And if there was to be a Rafah incursion, I know the figures mentioned evacuating some 800,000 from Rafah, but there is no space,” he added, referring to a long-threatened Israeli offensive into Rafah, southern Gaza, where some 1.5 million Gazans were driven to take refuge.

During the conflict since last Oct. 7, Israel has multiple times attacked at or near hospitals as well as areas where aid distribution is taking place, though under the rules of war such sites should be off limits.

Israel has waged a military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas which killed some 1,200 people.

Since the offensive began, more than 33,600 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the enclave, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while much of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

Israel also stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which has urged it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

The death toll from malnutrition and dehydration in the Gaza Strip has risen to 25, following the deaths of two more victims, including an infant, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said Saturday.


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