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WHO cancels sixth aid mission to Gaza over security concerns – SUCH TV

The World Health Organisation (WHO) cancelled another planned medical aid mission to Gaza on Wednesday over security concerns, the sixth such cancellation in two weeks, and sounded a fresh alarm over the spread of infectious disease there.

The UN body’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it was the sixth mission to northern Gaza cancelled by the UN agency because requests to visit had not been approved or assurances over security provided since its last visit, on Dec 26.

“Intense bombardment, restrictions on movement, fuel shortage and interrupted communications make it impossible for WHO and our partners to reach those in need,” he told a virtual press conference from Geneva. “We call on Israel to approve requests by WHO and other partners to deliver humanitarian aid.”

The WHO said only 15 hospitals in Gaza remain functional, even partially. The deteriorating conditions are also a perfect breeding ground for infectious disease, the agency said.

For example, the number of diarrhoea cases among children under five was 20 times higher in November 2023 compared to the average of the previous year, said Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in Gaza.

He added that he was hopeful a WHO mission planned for Thursday to northern Gaza could go ahead. But he added that 16 or 17 of 21 planned missions from the wider UN have already been cancelled so far this month.

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, said it would be a “gargantuan” task to restore the public health system in Gaza even with a ceasefire.

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