The UN Secretary-General has expressed grave alarm at the “appalling situation and massive loss of life” in a number of hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement attributed to his spokesman, the Secretary-General called — on behalf of humanity — for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that all hospitals in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip – with the exception of Al-Ahli Hospital – were out of service as of yesterday, Monday, due to power cuts and the lack of medical supplies, oxygen, food and water, exacerbated by shelling and fighting in the vicinity of these medical centers.
Protection of humanitarian law
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, which currently has more than 500 patients, is the only medical facility capable of receiving patients in the area amid increasing challenges and scarce supplies.
Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law, and all parties to the conflict must ensure their protection.
He said any hostilities in or around hospitals must commit to protecting patients, health workers and other civilians and avoiding endangering them.
Dujarric said 115 aid trucks entered Gaza on Monday from Egypt. The trucks were carrying food, medicine, medical supplies, bottles of water, blankets, tents and hygiene items. This brings the total number of trucks entering the sector since October 21 to 1,096.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned yesterday that humanitarian operations, including the distribution of aid coming through the Rafah crossing, are expected to cease within the next forty-eight hours after its fuel stocks are completely depleted.
Humanitarian organizations are facing severe communications disruptions, also linked to running out of fuel that leads to the shutdown of mobile phone towers.
Water and food suffering
The spokesman said hundreds of thousands of people, unwilling or unable to move to the south, were remaining in the north amid heavy hostilities.
He stated that they are struggling to secure a minimum of water and food to survive. He said that the consumption of water from unsafe sources raised serious concerns about drought and waterborne diseases.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed concern about the risk of malnutrition and the risk of starvation.