WHO chief asks Israel to ease curbs on Gaza medical aid

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

GENEVA: The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on Tuesday for Israel to lift restrictions on aid into Gaza, saying that the primary pipeline for emergency medical aid into the enclave from Egypt had been cut off.

Israel seized and closed the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on May 7, disrupting a vital route for people and aid into and out of enclave.

“At a time when the people of Gaza are facing starvation, we urge Israel to lift the blockade and let aid through,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva, describing the situation in the Palestinian enclave as “beyond catastrophic”.

“Without more aid flowing into Gaza we cannot sustain our lifesaving support of hospitals and populations,” he said. Israel says UN agencies are to blame for not distributing aid more efficiently within the enclave, creating backlogs of supplies.

Tedros said Israel’s move had impacted six hospitals and nine primary health centres and caused 70 shelters to lose their medical facilities.

“Daily consultations have fallen by close to 40 percent and immunization by 50 percent,” he said. “Approximately 700 seriously ill patients who would have otherwise been evacuated for medical care elsewhere are stuck in a war zone.”