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Gaza: Rafah invasion would be a disaster “beyond imagination”, warn UN medics

Echoing renewed deep concerns by the UN’s top humanitarian official Martin Griffiths that an assault on Rafah “could lead to a slaughter”, the World Health Organization (WHO) also firmly rejected allegations of years-long collusion with non-health partners either in or underneath Gaza’s hospitals.

‘There is no collusion’

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“We definitely cannot be louder in saying that no, there is no collusion between WHO and any other entities in the health sector, in the health partners, in the (local) Ministry of Health who we are collaborating with,” said Dr Teresa Zakaria, WHO Incident manager for the conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

Speaking from Gaza, Dr Rik Peeperkorn, WHO’s OPT Representative, insisted that hospitals “should never be militarized” and that “all eyes” were on the hostilities and the feared large-scale offensive in Rafah. “You see the fear people face,” he said. “People constantly come with questions (asking) ‘What can we do?’”

The development comes as hospital facilities are “completely overburdened and under capacitated…and close to the brink of collapse”, Dr Peeperkorn continued, noting that 1.5 million Gazans are now crammed into makeshift tents and UNRWA shelters “all over the place” in Rafah governorate. 

More to come…

 

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