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Gaza health system on brink of collapse, says UN

(B2) The reports of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the ICRC follow one another on the medical and humanitarian situation in Gaza and one cannot say that they conflict with optimism. Here is a summary of the latest report

800 dead, 3300 injured. According to figures from the Ministry of Health, on January 9 at 17 p.m., the bar of 800 dead and at least 3.300 wounded was crossed, in fourteen days of Israeli operation. Among them are the first foreign victims: a Ukrainian woman (married to a Palestinian doctor) and her child were killed when a shell fired by an Israeli tank hit the house where she was staying, a house located in a housing cooperative for doctors in the Zeitoun area of ​​Gaza City. On the Israeli side, we have a death toll of 10 soldiers and 4 civilians. What is worrying is the number of children killed in Gaza - as shown in the graph below.

On the verge of collapse. "The security situation continues to prevent medical personnel from reaching hospitals and clinics." And the WHO has warned that the health care system is "on the brink of collapse", with medical staff stretched thin, working around the clock, and in difficult conditions (with little or no help). electricity...). It is also to be feared that the human toll will worsen because only surgical and emergency care are provided. The treatment of chronic patients (cancer, dialysis, etc.) is no longer guaranteed. Of the 24 primary health care centers, 24 remain open, but with a 56% reduction in visits!

Limitation of UNRWA and ICRC movements. UNRWA (the UN Agency for the Assistance of Palestinian Refugees) maintained the "suspension of personnel movements throughout the Gaza Strip", a decision "justified by incidents in which the personnel of UNRWA, convoys and installations were attacked" (attack on a UN truck and a school bearing the UN emblem). As for the ICRC - the International Committee of the Red Cross, it has declared that it will not lead a "relief convoy outside Gaza City on January 9".

Insufficient shelter. Many civilians "continue to flee their homes for refuge". UNRWA has thus opened 27 shelters in the Gaza Strip (UNWRA schools, and other buildings and
structures without special protection) which received "more than 21.200 displaced people, compared to a few hundred last week".

Little electricity, little water, no telephone, garbage. Most of the power lines have been repaired, except the one to the northwest. But since the power plant does not work
not, many areas remain without electricity. Consequence: many water and sanitation wells do not work (the pumps are electric). And as the fuel arrives drop by drop, there is no possibility of running the generators. The telephone is also absent. 80-90% of the mobile operator's network is down and fixed lines are not working. Waste is piling up, including in hospitals. This is starting to pose serious hygiene problems.

Refueling. A total of 89 trucks, including 40 for aid agencies, were allowed into Gaza by Kerem Shalom on January 8; 41 commercial trucks on January 9. 14 trucks of medical equipment were able to return to the Rafah point as well as 11 medics and 3 ambulances. This is largely insufficient, according to Louis Michel, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid, who estimates that to come to the aid of the population of Gaza, 300 trucks would be needed per day.

At the European level, several Member States consider that the limit has now been crossed. And some like Belgium do not hesitate to call for an independent investigation into the situation considering that it is "completely contrary to international humanitarian law" according to a press release from the Prime Minister.


(Updated January 11)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).