Middle East

7,000-11,000 Palestinians need immediate medical evacuation: WHO official

Patients who need evacuation are required to receive treatment in specialized hospitals, says WHO regional director for Eastern Mediterranean

Beyza Binnur Donmez  | 04.06.2024 - Update : 05.06.2024
7,000-11,000 Palestinians need immediate medical evacuation: WHO official


 A minimum of 7,000 to over 11,000 Palestinian patients need immediate medical evacuations, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday.

The figure was given by Hanan Balkhy, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, at a meeting in Geneva with the Association of the Accredited Correspondents to the United Nations.

Balkhy said that those patients who need evacuation are required to receive treatment in specialized hospitals.

She also underlined the "significant" ripple effects on Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria as the immediate neighbors of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

"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 neighboring countries," she said and added: "So we have a lot of work ahead of us."

"If we do not have peace, that's going to be an extremely challenging situation. We need peace within the borders to open up," she said. 

Asked by Anadolu about the number of people who died while waiting for medical evacuations, Inas Hamam, the regional head of emergency communications at WHO's office for the Eastern Mediterranean, told the agency in a statement that data for that is "not available," adding that the health information system in Gaza is in “tatters.”

She said that the WHO is coordinating with the Palestinian Health Ministry to improve registration processes.

"WHO is coordinating with the Health Ministry on the list of patients registered for medical evacuation, but we do not have access to information on the numbers or status of patients who have died before being evacuated," she added.

Last week, the WHO said that all medical evacuations in Gaza are under "abrupt halt" since May 7.

Israel has continued its brutal offensive on Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion, despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.

More than 36,500 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, mostly women and children, and nearly 83,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Nearly eight months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in its latest ruling has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

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