Palestinians began a mass exodus from northern Gaza after Israel’s military told people to evacuate toward the southern part of the due to an expected ground invasion against the ruling Hamas militant group. The order, delivered to the U.N., comes as Israel presses an offensive against Hamas militants.
Gaza is already one of the world’s most densely populated pieces of land, with more than 2 million people in 140 square miles.
The World Health Organization joined the wider United Nations in appealing to Israel to immediately rescind orders for the evacuation of over 1 million people living north of Wadi Gaza. A mass evacuation would be disastrous—for patients, health workers, and other civilians left behind or caught in the mass movement.
With ongoing airstrikes and closed borders, civilians have no safe place to go, WHO stated that almost half of the population of Gaza is under 18 years of age. With dwindling supplies of safe food, clean water, and health services, and without adequate shelter, children and adults, including the elderly, will all be at heightened risk of disease.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health has informed WHO that it is impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients without endangering their lives. Vulnerable patients include those who are critically injured or dependent on life support. Moving them amid hostilities puts their lives at immediate risk.
The two Ministry of Health hospitals in the North of Gaza that continue to be operational, have greatly exceeded their combined 760-bed capacity with severe overcrowding. Of the thousands of patients with injuries and other conditions receiving care in hospitals, hundreds are severely wounded, and over 100 require critical care. These are the sickest of the sick. Many thousands more, also with wounds or other health needs, cannot access any kind of care.
The compressed timeframe, complex transport logistics, damaged roads, and, above all, lack of supportive care during transport all add to the difficulty of moving them.
Furthermore, the four Ministry of Health hospitals in the south of Gaza are already at or beyond capacity and lack the critical care capacity and supplies needed to treat additional patients.
The lack of medical supplies is already endangering patients and hampering health workers. Supplies that WHO had pre-positioned in Gaza have mostly been consumed.
WHO has prepared medical supplies in its logistics hub in Dubai and is ready to deliver them to Areesh, Egypt—just 20 minutes from Rafah—as soon as the landing permit is received. The supplies would be enough to care for more than 300,000 patients with a range of wounds and diseases.
WHO asks for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor for their onward, safe delivery to health care facilities in Gaza, including via Rafah.
In the aftermath of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, many countries are evacuating their citizens from Israel as well as neighboring Palestinian territories.
The White House announced that the United States government would begin organizing evacuation flights, expected to start the next day, to help Americans leave Israel. People familiar with the planning stated that the government was arranging four flights per day.
Canada had evacuated its citizens from Tel Aviv to Athens, Greece through two Royal Canadian Air Force planes after the government had implemented the plan to evacuate the citizens. From Athens, an Air Canada plane would arrive on 13 October, taking the evacuated to Toronto. Officials stated they were exploring other means of evacuation from Israel, including ground travel to Jordan.
Starting Friday, October 13, the U.S. government will arrange charter flights to assist U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who have been unable to book commercial transit and seek a safe means of departing Israel. From these locations, individuals will be able to make their onward travel arrangements to the destination of their choice. These initial transportation options will be augmented in the coming days. Senior State Department officials are actively working with airline carriers and international partners on how best to provide additional options to U.S. citizens seeking to depart Israel or conduct onward travel to the United States. U.S. citizens in need of assistance should complete the crisis intake form on travel.state.gov.
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