The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it needs urgent access to Gaza to deliver aid and medical supplies, as the UN agency warned of a long-term humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.
Speaking to media in a briefing, Dr. Richard Brennan, regional emergency director of the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean regional office, said the agency was meeting with “decision-makers” on Tuesday to open access to Gaza as soon as possible.
“We have aid south of Rafah and waiting for the go ahead to get entry to Gaza,” he said, referring to the Rafah crossing, which was a vital artery before the fighting and is now a key route for desperately needed supplies into Gaza.
Israel began intense bombardment and a siege of Gaza following a devastating assault by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.
Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in the occupied Palestinian territories, said 2,800 people have died and 11,000 injured in Gaza since Israeli air strikes started. About half of them were women and children.
There have been 115 attacks on healthcare and the majority of hospitals in Gaza were not functioning, with water and electricity, as well as medical supplies, scarce, officials said.
The agency said disease outbreaks are a risk and concerns are growing about the 350,000 people in Gaza with chronic diseases like diabetes, who are also struggling to get access to healthcare.