UNFPA Statement on the Crisis in Gaza

People fleeing during an airstrike in Gaza City. © Mohamed Zaanoun/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is beyond catastrophic and worsening every day. In the three months since the conflict began, Gaza “has become a place of death and despair,” according to United Nations authorities.

UNFPA deeply regrets the end of last winter’s humanitarian pause in Gaza. We condemn all violence in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, including all sexual violence against women, and echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for a sustained humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages by Hamas.

UNFPA is focused on getting lifesaving reproductive health supplies into Gaza. So far, UNFPA has distributed reproductive health kits to seven hospitals across Gaza; the kits include clean-delivery supplies, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and equipment for emergency obstetric care. UNFPA has also helped supply midwifery kits containing supplies for midwives to continue their life-saving work, as well as dignity kits containing hygiene supplies for women and girls living in shelters.

But it simply isn’t enough.

Among Gaza’s population, more than 540,000 people – about one in four – are women and girls of reproductive age. An estimated 5,500 women are due to give birth within the next month, with more than 180 delivering every day. An estimated 840 women may experience pregnancy- or birth-related complications. With hospitals overwhelmed by casualties and lacking essential fuel, medicines, and basic supplies, many people will be cut off from safe delivery services.

According to the World Health Organization, as of 3 January, only 13 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are even partially functional – nine in the south and four in the north – while operating at three times their capacity. To make matters worse, the World Food Program (WFP) reports that the region is also on the brink of famine.

“More aid is urgently needed in Gaza to save lives and stem the torrent of human suffering,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said in recent remarks to the UN Security Council. “Unimpeded access of humanitarian workers and of supplies, including sexual and reproductive health services, is a matter of life and death for women and girls.”

USA for UNFPA is mobilizing humanitarian support here in the United States for women, girls, and newborns trapped in this conflict. May peace prevail so that all women and girls are spared horrific violence and suffering.

Statement last updated on February 21, 2024

For the health and
dignity of women and girls

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