| 21 February 2024, Wednesday |

More premature babies born in Gaza due to stress, trauma -Oxfam

 The number of premature births has risen by almost a third in Israeli-besieged Gaza over the past month as mothers suffer growing stress and trauma, British charity Oxfam said on Thursday.

Dozens of premature babies made headlines this week when they were rescued from a north Gaza hospital and transferred to Egypt after the site came under bombardment.

The northern part of the densely populated enclave has born the brunt of Israel’s six-week-old military campaign against Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement and none of its hospitals are functioning normally.

Juzoor, an Oxfam partner organisation that is supporting hundreds of pregnant women in Gaza, said the number of premature births had risen by 25-30% in the last month, attributing the rise to difficulties faced by mothers who have had to flee their homes due to bombardment and have suffered stress and trauma.

Premature babies are more susceptible to illness and Juzoor said that at least one newborn had died in each of its 13 shelters for displaced people in north Gaza over the past month.

Even before the current conflict, Gaza had a high infant mortality rate, with newborn deaths representing 68% of the total, according to the World Health Organization.

Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Middle East Regional Director, said some displaced mothers have had to give birth in crowded classrooms, without medical support or basic hygiene.

“I don’t think there is anyone anywhere in the world that would disagree that is simply inhumane,” she said.

  • Reuters