By Franca Ofili
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for the respect and protection of medical facilities, patients and healthcare workers in Gaza.
Mr Aliyu Dawobe, the Public Relations Officer of ICRC, made the call in a statement in Abuja.
Dawobe said that the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return, risking the lives of thousands of wounded, sick and displaced people, running on thin and overstretched supplies and increasingly unsafe environment.
Dawobe quoted Mr William Schomburg, the Head of ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza, as saying “this is severely affecting hospitals and ambulances and taking a heavy toll on civilians, patients and medical staff.
“The destruction affecting hospitals in Gaza is becoming unbearable and needs to stop.
“The lives of thousands of civilians, patients and medical staff are at risk.”
Schomburg also said that over the past days, ICRC teams distributing critical supplies to medical structures across Gaza, witnessed horrendous images that have now gotten worse due to sharpened hostilities.
According to him, children’s hospitals have not been spared from the violence, including Al Nasser Hospital, heavily damaged by the hostilities, and Al Rantisi Hospital which has had to cease its operations.
He said that their partner, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) had been working relentlessly to continue operating the Al Quds Hospital, as it desperately runs out of necessary means, amidst increasing hostilities.
Schomburg said that Al Shifa Medical Complex, the largest referral hospital in the Gaza Strip, already overwhelmed with patients, now hosts thousands of displaced families who lost their homes over the last month due to the conflict.
“Any military operation around hospitals must consider the presence of civilians, who are protected under international humanitarian law.
“Attacks on medical facilities and personnel dealt a heavy blow on the healthcare system in Gaza, which is severely weakened after more than one month of heavy fighting.
“The rules of war are clear. Hospitals are specially protected facilities under international humanitarian law.
“The ICRC urgently calls for the immediate protection of all civilians, including humanitarian workers and medical personnel,” he said.
According to him, the protection is not only a legal obligation, but a moral imperative to preserve human lives in terrible times. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu