REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
12 August 2014
Alessandra Vellucci, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing, which was attended by the Spokespersons for United Nations Refugee Agency, International Organization for Migration, World Meteorological Organization, and the World Health Organization.
Mr. [Paul] Garwood [of the WHO] stated that the previous day the Regional Director of the WHO East and Mediterranean Regional Office had visited Gaza and toured the damaged health facilities, where he met with local authorities. The day before he had met with the President of the Palestinian Authority and received information about the challenges and impact on the health system of the recent events. The latest figures WHO had showed that as of 9 August more than 1,900 Palestinians had been killed, including 449 children and 243 women. Those figures had come from the Ministry of Health. 9,861 people had been injured.
Mr. Garwood said that the impact on the health system had been great. 15 out of 32 hospitals had been damaged, in addition to 18 primary health clinics and 29 ambulances. At least 5 medical staff had been killed and many more had been injured. WHO expressed concern about the possibility of a health disaster in Gaza, in particular because of the possible spread of communicable diseases. WHO had responded so far by sending 2.5 million USD for medical supplies and other support into Gaza hospitals and clinics during the conflict. There was an urgent need to provide mental health support for all patients, parents, children and especially displaced persons, most of whom did not have homes to come back to in Gaza.