WHO sounds alarm over escalating tensions in Rafah

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WHO sounds alarm over escalating tensions in Rafah
Palestinians scramble for safety as tensions escalate in Rafah | Courtesy-Reuters-Hatem Khaled

The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded the alarm over the potential for a catastrophic bloodbath as a full-scale military operation looms over Rafah.

With over 1.2 million people currently seeking shelter in the area, WHO expresses deep concern over the dire consequences such an incursion could bring.

A new wave of displacement, warns WHO, would exacerbate overcrowding, severely limiting access to vital resources such as food, water, and health services. This, in turn, could lead to increased disease outbreaks, heightened levels of hunger, and further loss of lives.

Amid repeated attacks and shortages of essential supplies and staff, only 33% of Gaza's 36 hospitals and 30% of primary health care centers remain functional. WHO and its partners are urgently working to bolster health services, but the fragile health system is ill-equipped to handle the potential surge in casualties and deaths.

As tensions escalate, WHO highlights the imminent danger faced by hospitals in Rafah, including Al-Najjar, Al-Helal Al-Emarati, and Kuwait hospitals, which could quickly become inaccessible and nonfunctional. Similarly, the European Gaza Hospital in east Khan Younis faces isolation and vulnerability.

To mitigate the strain on hospitals, WHO and partners are establishing additional primary health centers and medical points while pre-positioning medical supplies. Efforts are underway to set up a new field hospital in Al Mawasi, Rafah, and WHO warehouses have been relocated to ensure the rapid movement of supplies when needed.

In the north, WHO is scaling up efforts to resupply and expand services at various hospitals, but substantial additional mortality and morbidity are still expected.

In a fervent plea, WHO calls for an immediate ceasefire and urges the removal of obstacles hindering humanitarian assistance. Additionally, WHO emphasizes the importance of respecting the sanctity of health care facilities and ensuring the safety of health and humanitarian workers.

As tensions escalate, WHO's warnings underscore the urgent need for swift and decisive action to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah.

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