WHO Says Gaza Evacuation Must Stop to Protect Civilian Health

The organization warns that Israel's recent orders to evacuate over one million residents of Gaza will have disastrous consequences.

On October 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement asking Israel to reverse evacuation orders for people living in Gaza. Israel's government ordered the evacuation of over one million people on October 12 due to unrelenting attacks by Hamas and a potential counterattack by Israeli forces.

However, the United Nations stepped in and urged Israel to reverse the order because continuing with the evacuation would prove catastrophic and lead to a horrendous humanitarian crisis.

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In a statement, the UN said, "The call from Israeli Forces to move more than 1 million civilians living in northern Gaza within 24 hours is horrendous. This will only lead to unprecedented levels of misery and further push people in Gaza into the abyss."

The WHO has joined in this effort, stating that mass exodus from the region would be disastrous for healthcare workers, patients, and civilians left behind or stranded in the evacuation.

In addition, on October 14, WHO condemned Israel's orders to evacuate hospitals in Northern Gaza, saying it's impossible to evacuate healthcare facilities in this region because vulnerable patients would be endangered if forced to make the journey.

Currently, while two Ministry of Health hospitals in the North of Gaza are operational, they have seen a marked increase in severely wounded patients and have exceeded their 760-bed capacity. And complex logistical issues paired with damaged roads and lack of supportive care make an evacuation extremely dangerous.

As a result, WHO says evacuating 22 hospitals treating more than 2000 inpatients in northern Gaza is "tantamount to a death sentence."

Aljazeera reports that since October 7, there have been 110 attacks on health facilities in Gaza and the West Bank. In addition, WHO warns only 24 hours of water, electricity, and fuel are left in the Gaza Strip.

Nonetheless, WHO urges Israel to reverse the evacuation orders of hospitals in northern Gaza and calls for the protection of health facilities, health workers, patients, and civilians in the region.

The organization also pleads for the "immediate and safe delivery of medical supplies, fuel, clean water, food, and other humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, where life-saving assistance – including WHO health supplies that arrived [on October 14] – is currently awaiting entry."

According to the Associated Press, the Israeli military said hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have already traveled south due to the Gaza evacuation orders.

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