Between 7,000-11,000 Gazans need urgent medical evacuation: WHO

The increase of patients requiring evacuations for medical purposes coincides with Israel’s military operation in Rafah [Getty/file photo]

Between 7,000 and 11,000 Palestinians are in urgent need of medical evacuation, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The number was confirmed by Hanan Balkhy, the WHO’s regional director in the Eastern Mediterranean, during a meeting in Geneva with the Association of the Accredited Correspondents to the United Nations, Anadolu Agency said.

Balkhy stressed that those requiring medical evacuation, need to undergo treatment in specialised hospitals, and highlighted the “rippling” effect on neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria.

“If you’re talking about leaving nobody behind, we are already leaving significant numbers behind from Gaza, but also, when there’s pressure on already fragile health systems in the neighbouring countries”.

She went on to emphasise that “borders need to be open” and for “peace” to be implemented in order to alleviate the dire health situation in Gaza.

Balkhy’s comments come after WHO condemned an “abrupt halt” to medical evacuations early last month, when Israel began its deadly military operation in Rafah, raising fears that the cut-off would mean more people would die waiting for treatment.

It is not yet known if those needing evacuation are those injured by Israeli bombardment in Gaza, or those suffering long-term illnesses such as cancer – or both.

Earlier during the war, Turkey received a number of cancer patients from Gaza. As of February, this year, 44,065 injured Palestinians received treatment in Egypt, according to local media.

In May, the Iraqi government received dozens of wounded Palestinians from Egypt under the ‘Help Gaza’ treatment scheme.

Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip relentlessly for almost eight months, killing at least 35,586 Palestinians since October 7, mostly women and children.

At least 83,074 Palestinians are currently wounded, the health ministry in Gaza said, while the very few remaining hospitals in Gaza are increasingly overwhelmed with patients, as Israel carries out strikes on a daily basis on the enclave.

Three of Gaza’s main hospitals are located in Gaza’s southern Governorate and are at grave risk following the start of Israel’s military campaign in Rafah, beginning on May 7.

Only 14 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are partially functional and are constantly faced with critical shortages, such as fuel, electricity and medical equipment.

Images of bloodied, wounded Palestinians sprawled across hospital beds and floors have haunted news websites and social media pages over the months.

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