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World Health Organization (WHO)
17 June 2007
Health action in crises
Highlights No 161 – 11 to 17 June 2007
Each week, the World Health Organization Department for Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on the health aspects of selected humanitarian crises. Drawing on the various WHO programmes, contributions cover activities from field and country offices and the support provided by WHO regional offices and Headquarters. The mandate of the WHO Departments specifically concerned with Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Crises is to increase the effectiveness of the WHO contribution to crisis preparedness and response, transition and recovery. This note, which is not exhaustive, is designed for internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
Assessments and events:
• Escalating violence in the Gaza strip over the last week poses a significant threat to civilian populations and aid workers. Since 9 June, fighting has claimed 77 lives and injured 350 people, including two UNRWA staff members.
• Four hospitals have been the theatre of gun battles. Heavy fighting is trapping the population in their homes, preventing people from reaching essential health services and food outlets, while health and relief workers are unable to reach their working places.
• Hospitals can only provide emergency services and the wards of all hospitals in Gaza are overloaded. People cannot access blood banks for donations and there is a lack of blood units for transfusions.
• Many primary clinics and food distribution centres have been closed. With 80% of the Palestinian refugee population reliant on food aid approximately a million people are now with unreliable access to food.
• As of 11 June all UN offices have been closed and staff advised to remain in their residences.
• WHO is coordinating urgent health needs and response and providing drugs, consumables and laboratory supplies.
• Regular activities have been interrupted due to insecurity.
• In 2007, WHO’s emergency activities are funded by ECHO, Norway and Italy.
Assessments and events:
• The humanitarian crisis around the Nahr El-Bared camp continues; armed violence has resulted in 144 deaths, including that of two Lebanese Red Cross workers on 11 June.
• The flow of refugees into neighbouring camps and local communities continues and is causing overcrowding and stretching host communities’ capacities.
• An estimated 11 000 refugees are living in Badami camp, hosted in community centres, mosques and schools and supported by UNRWA.
• No changes in incidence of communicable diseases were reported.
• Current needs are reportedly being met by health agencies and organizations.
• The Third Health Cluster meeting was co-chaired by WHO on 12 June.
• WHO continues to monitor health parameters and recommended a polio and measles vaccination campaign which is currently being conducted by UNICEF. To date, 11638 vaccinations having been given.
• WHO’s emergency activities in 2007 are funded by Kuwait, Qatar, and the World Lebanese Cultural Union.