Uhuru Watch

Gaza's Women and Children Bear the Brunt of Israel's Hostilities

By Vanessa Onyema | Nov 20, 2023

The  World Health Organization has reported that in Gaza, women, children and newborns are significantly suffering from the intensifying hostilities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including deaths and decreased access to medical care. 

The Ministry of Health data as of November 3, 2023 lists that there have been 2326 women and 3760 children killed in the Gaza Strip out of 11,000+ reported deaths. This means that women and children represent at least 67% of the casualties, with 420 children expected to be killed or injured every day. 

Care International also reported that of the more than 11,000 people who have died in Gaza, women and children make up a startling 70 per cent. Every ten minutes, a child dies and anesthesia is not used during C-sections performed on pregnant patients. In overcrowded shelters, the risks of gender-based violence against women and girls are also rising.

Bombardments are severely disrupting maternal, newborn, and child health services. This has damaged or made health facilities non-functional, led to large-scale displacement, collapsed water and electricity supplies, and restricted access to food and medicines. In Gaza, there are reportedly 50,000 expectant mothers and over 180 (0.36 per cent) of them give birth each day. At least 15 per cent are likely to have problems during pregnancy or delivery and require extra medical attention.

Some women are reported as being forced to give birth in shelters, in their homes, in the streets among the debris, or in overcrowded healthcare facilities, where sanitation is getting worse and the risk of infection and medical complications is rising. This is because 45 primary healthcare centers and 14 hospitals have closed. 

With insufficient food and water supplies, over half of Gaza's population is currently taking refuge in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) facilities in appalling conditions that are contributing to malnutrition, dehydration, and the spread of waterborne illnesses. 

Initial UNRWA assessments indicate that approximately 380 newborns and 4600 displaced pregnant women residing in these facilities need medical care. With the high rates of malnutrition, the more than 22,500 cases of acute respiratory infections and the 12,000 cases of diarrhea that have already been reported are especially concerning.

It is important that the UN Security Council and the global community prioritizes the preservation of human life above everything else. Therefore, an urgent humanitarian ceasefire is required to lessen the suffering and keep a dire situation from getting out of control.

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