Despite the availability of aid and aid workers, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the delivery continues to be an “insurmountable challenge”.
During a virtual news conference held in Geneva on Wednesday, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, revealed that since December 26, six planned medical missions to northern Gaza have been cancelled.
Since October 7, Israel’s relentless bombardment of the besieged enclave has killed at least 23,469 people and injured 59,604 others, mainly women and children.
On Tuesday, UN OCHA also revealed that since December 26, Israel has blocked UN humanitarian missions to Jabalya’s Al Awda Hospital and Gaza’s Central Drug Store five times.
A planned joint mission with OCHA and the WHO to deliver much-needed fuel, sanitation facilities and fresh water into Gaza City and the north was also “denied by the Israeli authorities” as recently as January 8.
Despite the dire need for aid, Dr Ghebreyesus said “delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza continues to face nearly insurmountable challenges.”
“Intense bombardment, restrictions on movement, fuel shortages, and interrupted communications make it impossible for WHO and our partners to reach those in need,” he added.
He also said the WHO is well equipped with the necessary medical supplies, and an aid workforce and plan to give the people of Gaza the medical attention they need and deserve. Yet, “what we don’t have is access.”
He also revealed the WHO was concerned about a lack of security assurance.
A similar frustration was expressed earlier by the WHO’s representative for occupied Palestinian Territory, Dr Rik Peeperkorn.
In a UN Geneva press release published on Tuesday, Dr Peeperkorn said that when aid reaches the people of Gaza, it’s typically “too little. It’s too late and specifically in the north.”
According to UN OCHA, only six hospitals in Gaza’s northern governorates are functional. Worse still, the north has been completely cut off from fresh water supplies.
This worsening humanitarian crisis, Dr Peeperkorn warned, will “significantly heighten” the risk of the spread of communicable disease amid an already crippling health sector situation in Gaza.
In his plea on Wednesday, Dr Ghebreyesus said, “We call on Israel to approve requests by WHO and other partners to deliver humanitarian aid.”