3:08 a.m. ET, December 25, 2023
Situation at flashpoint hospital reflects “nightmare playing out across Gaza,” WHO chief says
World Health Organization officials witnessed “acute hunger” and “rising desperation” during a visit to a heavily damaged hospital in the north of the besieged enclave, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Sunday.
A WHO team delivered supplies to the flashpoint Al-Shifa hospital on Saturday with humanitarian partners including the United Nations and World Central Kitchen.
“Al-Shifa is a microcosm of the nightmare playing out across Gaza, where drastic shortages of medicines, food, power, water and – above all – safety imperil the population,” Tedros said on X, formerly Twitter.
The joint mission Saturday delivered 19,200 liters of generator fuel to Al-Shifa, where hospital authorities say 50,000 displaced people are taking refuge, according to Tedros. He said his colleagues saw Al Shifa’s surgery wing “overflowing with Gazans” who were seeking safety and shelter.
Tedros emphasized that the risk of famine is high across Gaza, with people desperately searching for food.
“I can only imagine the torment that would drive people to such lengths,” Tedros said, of people who have resorted to grabbing supplies from delivery trucks during the joint mission.
The mission also visited several maternity hospitals, where officials witnessed a lack of staffing, fuel, food, water, and pain medicine. At Al-Shaba maternity hospital, there are only three doctors to help deliver about 20 babies a day, including performing C-sections, Tedros said.
“Hospitals should be places for care and recovery, not danger and unrelenting suffering,” he said.
Some context: Israel has focused a huge amount of attention on Gaza’s hospitals since it began its offensive in Gaza in October, claiming Hamas uses medical facilities for military purposes. CNN cannot verify the claim. A key argument from Israel’s political and military leaders has been that any such misuse of Gaza’s hospitals by Hamas provides justification under international humanitarian law for Israeli military attacks.