The United Nations Population Fund is alarmed by the number of civilian casualties, including children and women caused by the current escalation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. “The destruction of health facilities, schools, homes and residential towers in Gaza, the plans to evict tens of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and the strict measures increasing the risks and suffering of women and adolescent girls should end,” noted the UNFPA Arab States Regional Director, Dr. Luay Shabaneh.
The current escalation risks worsening an already poor humanitarian situation, especially in Gaza, where the struggling health sector is already strained after years of protracted crisis further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with a 20% increase in active cases in April alone. Of immediate concern is the shutdown of Gaza’s sole power plant by the end of this week due to lack of fuel, with negative consequences for the provision of vital services.
As the hostilities are actively going on, it has been impossible to assess the extent of damage and needs. UNFPA has been in touch with implementing partners in Gaza who, now, are not able to implement any response due to the ongoing insecurity. People who lost their homes due to the Israeli bombardment of some residential buildings, including large towers, were able to find shelters with their extended families.
There are currently around 210,000 pregnant and lactating women in Palestine. Some 365 women give birth every day (150 in Gaza, 215 in West Bank); our immediate priority is to ensure safe delivery for these women and their babies. Information about the impact of military action is still very limited.
“I call upon all parties to put an end to the hostilities, to ensure the full protection of civilians and the safety of Palestinian and Israeli women and adolescent girls, ensure maternity wards are fully operational and equipped with designated operating rooms and sufficient staff, ensure the availability of essential supplies for safe delivery, and implement emergency referral mechanisms,” says Dr. Shabaneh.
"UNFPA also calls on all parties to ensure that displaced pregnant and lactating women have access to health services and that emergency shelters are equipped with safe delivery kits in case women are not able to reach health facilities in Gaza strip.” added Dr. Shabaneh.
UNFPA reiterates the need to maintain the access to life saving reproductive health and family planning services to avoid unintended pregnancies and to the provision of quality food and nutritional supplements for pregnant and lactating women.
UNFPA is also concerned over the suspension and the interruption of its gender-based violence (GBV) interventions, including the office-based and in-person services and other community education/awareness raising activities. We anticipate that priority interventions will include: delivering psychological first aid and emergency psycho-social support, the provision of emergency supplies, cash and voucher assistance and special needs, and the implementation of national financial inclusion strategies to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in designated emergency shelters and the families whose homes were destroyed or damaged.
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