Al-Shifa hospital staff burying bodies in mass grave: WHO director



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Dr Richard Brennan is the who’s Regional Emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean sir as I understand it power has been cut from incubators and other life-saving machines in the Intensive Care Unit at alifa hospital babies are being relocated from a nursery what can you tell us about the

Current state of affairs how is the health care System holding up well it’s uh the overall humanitarian situation I think we could characterize as catastrophic and in the health system it’s about as bad as in any other sector um and right now uh 75% of the 36 hospitals across Gaza are

Non-functioning uh prior to the conflict we had about three and a half thousand beds for patients in hospitals we only now have about a thousand beds and that at a time when Health needs are skyrocketing uh across all of Gaza uh in she shifa Hospital uh they’re really

Just hanging on um as you rightly said we estimate 36 uh newborns uh uh still clinging to life uh around uh 27 patients still in intensive care four of them have sadly passed away over the last two or three days um because of dysfunction of some of the life support

Uh uh equipment that that that would keep them alive um and that’s not functioning because the lack of fuel and electricity so on um so right across the board uh we have uh soaring Health needs that our ability to meet those NES is is really plummeting so alifa doesn’t have

Electricity doesn’t have water and it has very poor internet as you’ve just said and it’s had poor interet for the last few days can you just be specific there how how have these outages affected folks like is there associated deaths because of these outages yes I mean our information is uh

We’re getting less information now than we were several days ago uh I think we can make clear assumptions that people are dying uh unnecessarily because of the lack of power and the lack of functioning equipment um and just the overwhelming need so um you know the trauma patients uh I I that they’re

Competing for time in the operating room uh doctors have to make some very tough decisions in these contexts um when you’ve got very limited resources and you’ve got multiple patients all with life-threatening problems you have to make a decision a very very difficult decision about frankly who will live and

Who will die uh and we hear this continuously from from doctors and nurses in Gaza and we’re hearing it increasingly frequently for example if you’ve got one or two operating rooms and you’ve got four or five patients needing surgery at a given time uh who

Do you operate on and who do you delay if you’ve only got one ventilator functioning and you have two or three patients requiring it who do you put on the ventilator and who do you uh not support so these are a very real challenges that that health

Professionals in Gaza are facing far far too often there have also been some reports that hundreds of people are trapped inside the hospital right now and the BBC is also unfortunately reporting that there are dead bodies piling up inside as well what do you know about

That yes so we stand now there probably around 600 patients uh remaining uh around 100 staff and upwards of 1500 people uh taking shelter their displaced people um we’ve all seen the the scenes on the television uh reports from various news sources about multiple deaths um because of the security

Situation uh the the hospital staff are not allowed not able to take the bodies outside the perimeter of the hospital so now they are starting to bury in uh reportedly Mass Graves uh on the hospital grounds uh and we’re also hearing that uh frankly the stench of decaying uh flesh is is permeating

Throughout the hospital which makes the overall situation just incredibly uh difficult uh for those remaining inside and you can imagine just the pressure of of the doctors on the doctors and nurses uh the overwhelming need the reduced resource not only the electricity and the water and the oxygen that you’ve

Mentioned but of course uh medicine and other supplies uh they’re really just hanging on by a thread right now uh and doing a remarkable job I have to say I mean the these doctors and nurses these health professionals they’re heroic and they Des deserve our respect and our deepest admiration Israel alleges that

Hamas is using hospitals including and especially I guess shifa to conceal a vast command complex Underground they say the sick and the injured are being used as human Shields what do you say to those claims well all I can tell you is what uh my colleagues and and frankly I’ve

Seen over the years um I’ve visited chifa hospital and we have staff on the ground um what I can tell you is that shifa hospital continues to provide its medical and life-saving function um uh you know none of my colleagues have seen evidence of the militarization

Of uh of the facility uh if that does occur of course who condemns militarization of of any health facility uh we haven’t observed uh any uh any of that during the visits of our staff but we can confirm that it continues to provide its uh its vital medical and and

Life- saving function have you ever seen anything like this the militarization of hospitals like this seems to be quite extraordinary in terms of the hospitals being at the center of a conflict well I you know what what the allegations are in the instance of of shifa are that uh the militarization is

Underground so um you know we’ve heard from multiple Witnesses they haven’t seen any evidence of militarization within the hospital buildings um I have I personally have have seen in hospitals across uh many conflict zones and humanitarian crisis I have seen hospitals taken over by military personnel

That is not what people are observing or reporting in the instance of Gaza the allegations are that uh the the military presence is in bunkers below the ground not controlling the hospital above the ground so much but as I understand it um so it’s a different context of

Militarization that we have seen in in other contexts what can the who do you know the situation seems incredibly dire as you’ve been describing it’s not just shifa there are other hospitals that are essentially nonfunctional what’s the next step it isn’t likely that there will be an Abrupt end to this

Conflict no well I mean I I mean there’s things that we’re doing operationally and there are things that we we do on the advocacy side and of course our biggest request is that there be an immediate csire uh that’s absolutely vital uh we are also appealing for unhindered humanitarian access to those

In need um we’re also calling of course for the unconditional release of all the hostages and and appropriate medical care for them while they are in captivity and of course we’re we’re asking for cessation of attacks on on on health care and civilian infrastructure there’s been over 130 attacks on on

Health Care in Gaza so that’s on the advocacy side on the operational side uh uh we’re increasingly constrained in what we can do uh of course getting supplies and equipment to the to the hospitals uh is is a top top priority we’ve made four major distribution so far to seven priority hospitals across

Gasa including two in the north including shifa uh frankly we’ve we’ve delivered there twice since the start of the conflict um one of the other big concerns we have is uh preventing disease outbreaks with 1.6 million people acutely displaced 800,000 of them essentially crammed into overcrowded schools um and other Collective centers

Where the conditions are are woeful with lack of access to clean water poor sanitation overflowing toilets we’re putting in mechanisms as best we can under very difficult circumstances to try and detect uh disease Trends and potential disease outbreaks and put in some Public Health measures to prevent outbreaks but it’s very very difficult

We’re seeing increased cases of diarrhea and respiratory infections and terrible skin infections like um uh scabies and so on of course what we want to do is support the existing health system as much as we can we’re trying to bring in more capacity as I mentioned we’ve gone

From three and a half thousand beds to a thousand beds across just at the time where uh when Health needs are absolutely skyrocketing uh but it’s all very challenging because we don’t have fuel uh and we have very constrained access to those in need okay let’s leave

It there thank you Dr Richard Brennan the who’s Regional Emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean I appreciate your time sir thank you very much thanks a lot

The staff of Al-Shifa hospital have reportedly begun to dig mass graves on the grounds, says World Health Organization regional director Dr. Richard Brennan. Staff are unable to take dead bodies outside of the perimeter due to security concerns, according to Brennan.

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