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Children starving to death in northern Gaza hospitals — WHO chief

By AFP - Mar 04,2024 - Last updated at Mar 04,2024

Palestinians inspect the debris of a house destroyed by Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday (AFP photo)

GENEVA — An aid mission to two hospitals in northern Gaza found horrifying scenes of children dying of starvation, amid dire shortages of food, fuel and medicines, the World Health Organisation said Monday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency's visits over the weekend to the Al Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals "were the first since early October 2023 despite our efforts to gain more regular access to the north of Gaza".

The findings were "grim", he said on X, adding that "the situation at Al Awda was particularly appalling, as one of the buildings is destroyed".

The Kamal Adwan hospital, the only paediatrics hospital in northern Gaza, was overwhelmed with patients, he said.

"The lack of food resulted in the deaths of 10 children," Tedros said.

In all, the Gaza health ministry has said at least 16 children have died of malnutrition in aid-deprived northern Gaza.

The United Nations warned last week that famine in the Gaza Strip was "almost inevitable" because of the war that has been raging in the Palestinian territory since Hamas fighters carried out an unprecedented surprise attack inside Israel on October 7.

Israel's offensive against the Palestinian territory has killed more than 30,500 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

In addition to the dire lack of food at the two northern hospitals, Tedros also cautioned on X that "the lack of electricity poses a serious threat to patient care, especially in critical areas like the intensive care unit and the neonatal unit".

During the weekend mission, the UN health agency delivered 9,500 litres of fuel to each hospital, along with some essential medical supplies, he said.

"This is a fraction of the urgent lifesaving needs."

The WHO chief reiterated an appeal to Israel to "ensure humanitarian aid can be delivered safely, and regularly".

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