UN led evacuations of 31 premature babies from Gaza's hospital amidst conflict
The United Nations recently facilitated a high-risk evacuation of 31 premature babies from Gaza City's war-torn Al-Shifa hospital, highlighting the urgent need for relocation of patients and staff. Termed a "death zone" by the World Health Organization (WHO) following a visit, the hospital faced alarming conditions. Mohamed Zaqut, Gaza's director general of hospitals, confirmed “all 31 premature babies in Al-Shifa hospital...have been evacuated” and said “preparations are underway” for them to enter Egypt.
Coordination between the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS) and UN agencies, including the WHO, facilitated this critical transfer. Al-Shifa's significance as a focal point for Israeli operations has sparked controversy, with the Israeli army alleging its use by Hamas, a claim strongly debunked by Hamas and medical staff.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief, highlighted the evacuation's challenging nature, moving "very sick" babies under intense security conditions to Rafah's hospital in southern Gaza. Nevertheless, this initial transfer of infants was part of a broader plan aimed at relocating remaining patients and health staff from Al-Shifa, contingent upon ensuring their safe passage.
The dire situation at Al-Shifa, exacerbated by the lack of electricity since November 11, has led to a devastating toll, with eight infants in incubators dying due to the power outage. The WHO's initial assessment revealed 291 patients and 25 health workers still stranded at the hospital, emphasizing the urgency of the situation and the critical need for further interventions.
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