gaza: hospitals struggling to cope as fighting intensifies

from the canadian red cross website:

Amid fierce fighting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is moving swiftly to assist Gaza’s hospitals, which were overburdened even before the sudden influx of casualties. The priority is to get more medical supplies to the hospitals immediately. The first ICRC truckloads of supplies entered the Gaza Strip this week.

According to the ICRC office in the Gaza Strip, the humanitarian situation remains alarming. The streets of Gaza are mostly empty with the exception of long queues forming in front of bakeries. Meanwhile, prices for basic commodities are reportedly rising quickly.

The situation in hospitals is described as chaotic. Palestinian sources indicate that over 350 people had been killed and more than 1,200 injured. Medical teams have been dealing with a constant influx of wounded since December 27th and are stretched to the limit. “We are completely overwhelmed by the number of people coming in with very serious injuries. I have never seen anything like this,” said the head of the surgical ward of Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City. In addition, further medical supplies are urgently needed.

Some neighbourhoods are reported to be running short of water, either because the water network was damaged in the attacks or because of power shortages.

ICRC staff have been mostly unable to move inside the Gaza Strip due to the continuing attacks. However, the organization is in regular contact with both conflict parties and with hospitals and other public services. The ICRC currently has eight international staff and about 65 local employees working in the Gaza Strip.

In Israel, a third person was reported killed and several more injured by rockets fired from inside the Gaza Strip.

The ICRC’s main priority is to assist hospitals in Gaza. The organization has so far provided kits sufficient to cover the needs of 200 wounded persons as well as intravenous fluids. The ICRC also succeeded in bringing five additional ambulances into Gaza for use by the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

The ICRC has brought six trucks into Gaza carrying drugs and disposable materials provided by the Palestine Red Crescent Society, spare parts for ambulances and for medical equipment such as blood-pressure machines, heart-rate monitors and patient ventilators, plastic sheeting, food parcels and hygiene parcels.

The ICRC is preparing for the possible deployment of additional staff, including a surgical team.

An ICRC-chartered aircraft carrying enough items to cover the needs of 500 war-wounded people has arrived in Tel Aviv from Geneva. As soon as possible, these items will be forwarded to Gaza.

The ICRC continues to cooperate closely with the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

The ICRC reminds the parties to the hostilities that international humanitarian law requires that a clear distinction be drawn between military objectives and the civilian population and civilian objects. In particular, the ICRC underlines the obligation of the parties to take all feasible precautions to spare the civilian population the effects of hostilities. Medical facilities and personnel must also be protected.

Canadians wishing to help support ICRC Gaza response efforts are encouraged to contribute by donating online, calling 1-800-418-1111 or contacting their local Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “ICRC Gaza Response” and mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2.

Donate Now!
In-kind donations of food, clothing and other items, while well intentioned, are not the best way to help those in need. There are tremendous processing and transportation costs involved in shipping these items to beneficiaries. Local purchases of food and clothing are more culturally appropriate and effective. Red Cross supplies can be purchased in the immediate area, thereby reducing transportation costs. Cash transfers to the affected region provide the optimum flexibility to our Red Cross colleagues so they can meet the most urgent needs.

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