ActionAid Ireland urges global solidarity amid Gaza’s hospital crisis and famine risk

  • Date: 25/06/2024
  • Author: ActionAid Ireland
Displaced people in Gaza

ActionAid Ireland has called on people in Ireland to join a peaceful Global Day of Action today (Tuesday June 25th) in support of a ceasefire in Gaza as a doctor in one of its partner hospitals told of dire conditions faced by staff and patients and Gaza remains at high risk of famine.

Acting director of Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza, Dr Mohammad Salha, said the situation has been so bad that pregnant women have had caesareans without pain relief, while women are losing their unborn babies due to acute malnutrition.

Dr Salha said the biggest challenge the hospital faces is a lack of fuel and medical supplies due to entry restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities, making it impossible to run the generators used to power the building and vital equipment.

Dr Salha said:

“At times over the last nine months, shortages of fuel and medicines have meant we have been forced to carry out surgeries with only the light from a headtorch to guide us, and to perform caesareans on pregnant women without painkillers or antibiotics.”

Staff and patients are also strongly affected by the dire shortage of food and water that causes a lack of nutrition with many cases of pregnant women losing their unborn babies and wounds becoming infected to the point that limbs must be amputated.

Dr. Salha explained:

“Since more than two months, we are without vegetables and fruits and fresh food. We now have a few kinds of food only: flour, some cans. And it’s [affecting] the nutrition of children and women. 

As reported in the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report on food insecurity in Gaza published today, 96% of the population in the Gaza Strip faces high levels of food insecurity through September 2024. Most families are suffering extreme food shortages, hunger, and exhaustion.

In response to the IPC report, ActionAid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, said:

“It is inconceivable that Gaza remains at high risk of famine despite repeated warnings about the enormous scale of the food crisis over the last few months and clear demands outlining the action immediately required to address the catastrophic humanitarian situation.”
 
“The food situation has been deteriorating since Israeli military attacks on Rafah intensified in early May, and the current trajectory is both negative and highly unstable. Our colleagues and partners paint a dire picture of the situation across Gaza right now, with entire families forced to survive on a single can of tinned food, and pregnant women suffering miscarriages because they are so malnourished.”

Meanwhile ActionAid International is calling on people all over the world to take part in peaceful demonstrations, vigils, and activities today (Tuesday June 25th) to raise awareness of the horrors in Gaza, and to demand a ceasefire and action to end the war which has cost almost 38,000 lives, more than two-thirds of women and children.

ActionAid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, said:

“The brutal violence against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank continues unabated, now escalated with a ground invasion in Rafah. This is a man-made humanitarian crisis, created by Israel, with no precedent in terms of the scale of horror, death and destruction inflicted upon a civilian population. And it’s beyond time for the world to unite in solidarity to put an end to it.”

She said ActionAid’s ask of governments, international organisations, and civil society groups is clear, to:

  • Demand an immediate ceasefire and release of all hostages: Pressure all parties involved to halt the violence and start negotiations for a lasting peace. 
  • Provide humanitarian aid at scale: Ensure the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Gaza and 
  • Call for an arms embargo against Israel: Advocate for an arms embargo and stop providing weapons to Israel.

Ms Balfe added:

“Inhumane living conditions are further contributing to the spread of illness and disease in Gaza. Most people are crammed into hugely overcrowded tents and shelters where, without water, staying clean is impossible. In many places rubbish is piling up in the streets and sewage is flowing between tents due to the lack of fuel to power wastewater and refuse facilities, leading to an increase in rats and insects.

She said:

“Current hot temperatures are making the situation even worse, and greatly increasing the risk of dehydration. Outbreaks of skin diseases and Hepatitis A are on the rise while, according to the WHO, cases of diarrhoea have increased 25-fold as a result of the poor water quality and sanitation.

Ms Balfe concluded:

“If things continue as they are, more than a fifth of the population is expected to fall into the highest category of food insecurity any time between now and September. This means that starvation and death will increase. The inhumane living conditions and severe health risks described earlier are exacerbating this crisis. The report is clear that the risk of famine can be reduced, but only if a ceasefire and sustained humanitarian access to the whole of Gaza is secured. Gaza needs more aid – including food, water, fuel and spare parts for critical water facilities – now. The world must wake up to the gravity and urgency of this crisis and demand a permanent and immediate ceasefire now – the alternative is unthinkable.” 

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