Growing concerns about urgent health needs in the Gaza Strip

Flags of Israel and Palestine at a protest Flags of Israel and Palestine at a protest Photo by Chris Hearnon Unsplash

02 June 2021

Senior UN health agency officials are calling for unhindered humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip due to concerns about urgent health needs.

Following 11 days of rocket fire and air strikes by Israel and Hamas last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that it had provided essential medicines for trauma care and supported ambulance services for more than 2,000 injured people in Gaza during the ceasefire.

The escalation of violence began in May of this year after weeks of tension in Jerusalem led to clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at al-Aqsa Mosque, leaving hundreds of Palestinians and around 20 police officers injured. After Hamas fired rockets toward the city for the first time in years, Israel retaliated with airstrikes.

As a result of the recent violence, 278 Palestinians have died and more than 9,000 have been injured, while 12 Israelis have died and 700 have been injured. WHO reported that more than 77,000 people in Gaza have been internally displaced and around 30 health facilities have been damaged. The organisation has set up ten triage and treatment tents in Gaza, but WHO Head of Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Dr Rik Peeperkorn, reported that the situation remained “volatile”.

WHO reported that it also supported the delivery of more than 260,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX program, as COVID-19 remains a threat in the OPT. As of 31 May, more than 337,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,700 deaths have been reported in the OPT, with cases increasing in Gaza in recent weeks.

Last month, WHO launched an appeal for $7 million to support its health operations over the next six months. To date, only $2.3 million has been raised, with the organisation calling for the support of the international community.




Author: Irina Kovacevic; Editor: Catherine Meunier

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