The latest escalation of violence in Gaza has had a “catastrophic” impact on women and children, according to multiple UN agencies. Over 16,000 Palestinians have been killed, including a high proportion of women and children.
Over 180 Women Giving Birth Per Day Amid Crisis
As reported by Arab News, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society has said that around 180 women are giving birth every day in Gaza under extremely difficult conditions:
With Israeli restrictions on movement in and out of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are struggling to get proper medical treatment.
Despite the demands of pregnancy and childbirth, women in the seaside territory have had little access to resources like clean running water and electricity due to infrastructure damaged by Israeli air strikes.
UNICEF has warned that almost 20,000 babies have been born “in hell” since October 2022 as Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket fire.
Health facilities are struggling to cope with the high number of pregnant women and newborns needing emergency obstetric care. A shortage of fuel has meant that hospitals have access to electricity for only 4-8 hours per day.
Two Mothers Killed Every Hour
According to Chinese media SCMP, the UN has said that two Palestinian mothers have been killed every hour on average since the latest conflict broke out. The war is severely impacting women and children even though they did not start it.
Sima Sami Bahous, head of UN Women, stated that the crisis is threatening hard-won gains in gender equality:
“Entire families are being shattered by this cycle of violence. Livelihoods painstakingly built over years have been destroyed in seconds.”
|Women killed per hour
|Babies born since October 2022
Miscarriages and Trauma for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women in Gaza are facing unimaginable trauma during the bombings. Fear and stress are extremely harmful during pregnancy.
As covered by news site Jezebel, miscarriages in Gaza have risen by 300% during the siege. Women struggle to access emergency care following pregnancy complications.
Al Jazeera reported the story of one woman who gave birth prematurely when a missile hit her neighborhood, replacing joy with trauma. Her baby was delivered safely but many women are less fortunate.
Struggling for Basic Needs Like Water
On top of medical care, women in Gaza are also struggling to access other basic needs, like clean water. An NPR article highlighted the issues many women face in finding menstrual products, with concern growing over waterborne diseases from lack of sanitation access.
Ongoing Crisis with No End in Sight
The UN has urgently appealed for humanitarian access and resources to address the dire situation. However, a resolution to the conflict is still not foreseeable.
UN Women’s Executive Director Sima Bahous has called for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue between parties. But the UN Security Council remains divided on how to respond.
Without a political solution, Palestinians continue to bear the brunt of the crisis. The damage inflicted on Gazan women and children could impact generations to come, setting back development in the territory.
Much hangs in the balance as the world debates how to respond. But for pregnant mothers struggling to survive childbirth, urgent action cannot come soon enough.
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