The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced deep concern today over the surge of diseases in the Gaza Strip, where continuous Israeli airstrikes for weeks have forced residents into overcrowded shelters, exacerbating severe shortages of food and clean water.
Richard Pepperkorn, the organization’s representative in the Palestinian territories, stated, “We are deeply concerned about the spread of diseases as we approach the winter season.”
Pepperkorn added that over 70,000 cases of acute respiratory infections and more than 44,000 cases of diarrhea have been reported in the densely populated Gaza Strip. He highlighted that the numbers are much higher than anticipated, according to Reuters.
The WHO had previously warned of “worrisome patterns” in the spread of diseases in Gaza. The ongoing Israeli airstrikes and ground attacks for over 40 days have undermined the healthcare system, hindered access to clean water, and led to overcrowding in shelters.
As the rainy season commences, raising the risk of floods, concerns are escalating about the strain on the sewage system in the besieged and densely populated Gaza Strip, further contributing to disease proliferation.
The absence of fuel has already led to the closure of sewage and water desalination stations, increasing the risk of water contamination and disease spread.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated on Friday that approximately 813,000 displaced individuals are residing in at least 154 shelters managed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
The office warned that “overcrowding leads to the spread of diseases, including acute respiratory infections and diarrhea, raising environmental and health concerns.”