DUBAI (Dispatches) – The head of the World Health Organization said on Monday the humanitarian situation in Gaza was dire, adding that current levels of medical supplies reaching the Palestinian enclave were “only a drop in the ocean of need.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking at the World Governments Summit in Dubai and during his address he reiterated calls for a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza that has ravaged the area.
“WHO continues to call for safe access for humanitarian personnel and supplies,” he told the summit.
He added he was deeply concerned by the Zionist regime’s attacks on Rafah where most of the enclave’s inhabitants have fled.
“Only 15 out of 36 hospitals are still partially or minimally functioning, and Gaza health workers are doing their best in impossible circumstances,” he said.
“I am especially concerned by the recent attacks on Rafah where the majority of Gaza’s population has fled the destruction.
“So far, we have delivered 447 metric tons of medical supplies to Gaza, but it’s a drop in the ocean of need, which continues to grow every day,” he added.
The war, now entering its fifth month, has killed more than 28,000 people in Gaza, health authorities in the enclave have said.
Tedros said lessons were not being learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and that the world was not prepared for a new pandemic, which he added was inevitable.
“If the world fails to learn from these lessons, it will pay dearly next time,” he said. “And there will be a next time. History teaches us that the next pandemic is a matter of when — not if.”
He continued: “It may be caused by an influenza virus, or a new Coronavirus or it may be caused by a new pathogen we don’t even know about yet. Tomorrow we would face many of the same problems we face with COVID-19.”
Tedros rejected what he called “a litany of lies and conspiracy theories” surrounding current negotiations on an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response.
Meanwhile, the World Food Program (WFP) said on Sunday that there are too few meals for most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip amid a deadly Israeli offensive on the enclave.
“For most in Gaza, there is no house, no table, and too few meals,” WFP Country Director for Palestine, Matthew Hollingworth said in a statement.
“We are hoping to be able to assist more bakeries, particularly in the northern areas where people are in desperate need, but we need access, and we need safety,” he added.
The Israeli onslaught has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.
In late 2023 South Africa filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of failing to uphold its commitments under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The UN court, in its interim ruling in January, ruled that South Africa’s claims are plausible. It ordered provisional measures for Israel’s government to desist from genocidal acts, and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.