WHO urges world to do more for Israel-Hamas ceasefire extension

AFP , Wednesday 29 Nov 2023

The WHO on Wednesday said that a ceasefire in the Gaza war was possible but those with influence were not doing enough to secure it, expressing concern at Gaza's "crippled" health system.

WHO
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pause on Israel s weeks-long war had allowed the WHO to increase deliveries of medical supplies into Gaza and transfer patients from Al-Shifa hospital. AFP

 

The World Health Organization's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was a high chance that war would resume after a six-day pause, with the current truce scheduled to expire early Thursday.

The UN health agency is calling for the release of captives held in the Gaza Strip, and for a sustained ceasefire so that humanitarian aid can continue to be delivered into the strip to relieve further civilian suffering.

"I really believe that the humanitarian pause, or even the ceasefire, is possible if those with influence can take it seriously," Tedros told a press conference.

"It's possible except those with influence are not doing it. That's the situation. It can happen; it's a matter of will."

Tedros said the pause on Israel's weeks-long war had allowed the WHO to increase deliveries of medical supplies into Gaza and transfer patients from Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the territory, to other hospitals in the south of the strip.

During the first three days of the truce, the WHO received 121 pallets of supplies in its warehouse in Gaza, including intravenous fluids, medicines, laboratory supplies, and trauma and surgical supplies.

"WHO's greatest concern remains supporting Gaza's health system and health workers to function," Tedros said.

Only 15 of Gaza's 36 hospitals are still functioning with any capacity, but are "completely overwhelmed".

And of the 25 hospitals in the north, only three are still operating at the most basic level, lacking water, fuel and food, he added.

Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO representative in the occupied Palestinian territories, told the press conference: "We are extremely concerned about the vulnerability of what I call a crippled health system."

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said: "Tomorrow, even if peace was declared, we have a massive challenge ahead of us: an absolutely gargantuan public health and health delivery challenge."

The truce agreement has brought a temporary halt to Israel's air and ground invasion of Gaza that has killed more than 15,000 and injured 50,000, most of them women and children.

Israeli bombardment of more than 50 percent of all homes has also displaced most of the 2.4 million Palestinians in the strip and reduced large parts of the north of the territory to rubble.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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