UN rapporteur says medical evacuation approval rate in Gaza stands at 47%, calling it 'very low'

'Gaza should not be evacuating people' but health facilities, services in enclave should be able 'adequately respond' needs, says Tlaleng Mofokeng

17:01 - 22/04/2024 Pazartesi
File photo
File photo

The UN special rapporteur on the right to health on Monday warned that the medical evacuation rate in Gaza is "very low," standing at 47%, as many healthcare facilities are "completely dysfunctional."

Responding to Anadolu's question in a press briefing in Geneva, Tlaleng Mofokeng stressed it is hard to gather data on how many people need medical evacuation due to the destruction of civilian infrastructure.

Israel has continued its military offensive on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border incursion by Palestinian group Hamas on Oc.t 7, 2023.

Since then, it has killed more than 34,000 people in the blockaded enclave and wounded many more besides causing internal displacement, destroying more than half of the territory's infrastructure, and created conditions of famine.

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several medical facilities.

Mofokeng said reporting and collecting health data is going to be a "very big task" right now, adding: "But we know that a lot of people have been evacuated to the neighboring countries and regions. And even that, in itself, takes extremely long to complete as a process."

"There isn't a systemic structured, focused and deliberate intent to ensure that people's rights to health are protected," she said.

Noting that she does not have information on whether any medical evacuation took place in recent days, the rapporteur said: But I know that 4,373 patients have been assisted through the WHO work."

"The approval rate is 47%, which is still very low if you account for the types of injuries that are being seen at the moment," Mofokeng said. "And I mean, the point is Gaza should not be evacuating people for support, right? These facilities and the health services should be able to adequately respond to their needs, where they live, and where they reside."

She called the medical evacuations "just another layer of support but not a permanent solution" to what is needed.

The humanitarian and UN agencies were struggling with evacuations even before Oct. 7, she added.

- 520 healthcare professionals injured, 350 killed

Mofokeng said at least 520 healthcare professionals have been injured, and 350 others killed since the conflict began more than six months ago.

"These, in my view, are gross underreporting," she said. "This has been a war on the right to health and underlying determinants of health. The healthcare infrastructure in Gaza has been completely obliterated and the right to health has been decimated at every level."

The world is witnessing a "genocide" in Gaza, she said, adding: "Not only is Israel killing and causing irreparable harm against Palestinian civilians with its bombardments, it and their allies are also knowingly and intentionally imposing famine, prolonged malnutrition, and dehydration."

The UN rapporteur stressed that access to nutritious food, water, and other needs had been a concern before as well, but the current hostilities are "actually magnifying and worsening what was already a humanitarian crisis."

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