Doctors Without Borders: “With an offensive in Rafah it will be a catastrophe. Lack of drinking water, infections on the rise”

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Doctors Without Borders: “With an offensive in Rafah it will be a catastrophe. Lack of drinking water, infections on the rise”

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Fanpage.it's interview with Monica Minardi, president of Doctors Without Borders Italy: “If there is a ground offensive in Rafah by the Israeli army it would be a catastrophe within a catastrophe. There is a lack of food and drinking water, risks for pregnant women. Our calls for a ceasefire went unheeded.”

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Interview with Monica Minardi

president of Doctors Without Borders Italy.

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“If there is a ground offensive in Rafah by the Israeli army it would be a catastrophe within a catastrophe. There is a lack of drinking water and the population has no escape route, there are no safe areas. Our appeals so far have gone unheeded, but not let's stop calling for an immediate ceasefire .”

Speaking is Monica Minardi, president of Doctors Without Borders Italy , who explained to Fanpage.it the critical situation that is occurring in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip , where special operations by the army have been underway for days Israeli against Hamas and where the humanitarian emergency worsens hour after hour.

Dr. Minardi, according to what your colleagues say, what is happening in Rafah?

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“We are currently present in the south of Gaza with a team that is more than 80% made up of Palestinian staff and partly of international staff. We support 4 hospitals and basic health centers. Since the end of the year we have tried to support the supply of drinking water to avoid the development of diseases . And despite this we have seen a significant increase in skin diseases in our clinics, especially in those who are more vulnerable such as children.

In the Rafah area this project ensures that there is a supply of approximately 110 thousand liters of drinking water per day , which seems like a large quantity but is enough to cover the needs of only 20 thousand people. It is far from enough, because in a normal situation a single person needs 2 or 3 liters of water per day. In case of dehydration, as happens especially with the most fragile and vulnerable subjects such as pregnant women, children and chronically ill people, this water intake should be even higher. On average at the moment a family of 6 barely receives 4 liters of water a day despite our support activity.

We would be ready to increase the quantity of water distributed but there are many obstacles , from the limited number of trucks entering the Strip to the fact that there is always great difficulty in finding fuel , in addition to the fact that the infrastructures have been bombed and destroyed and cannot be they can fix it in a short time. Add to this the fact that the area is so crowded that operators report a lack of physical space even to set up a tent to support the health centers. The situation is catastrophic .”

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There are also many hospitals that have been targeted in recent months…

“After 4 months of war, attacks against civilian and healthcare facilities are continuous and indiscriminate, most of which have been destroyed and those still standing are only partially functional. This obviously also concerns the south of the Strip where, after repeated orders of evacuation that our teams also had to undergo since October 7th, many people crowded together, arriving in an already densely populated area.

There are currently more than 1.4 million people living on the streets. Furthermore, at this time of year the temperatures are low and all essential goods are missing, including drinking water and food . The Israeli government is preventing the entry of sufficient aid and in any case in the current state without an immediate and unconditional ceasefire even humanitarian aid can do very little. The situation is collapsing .”

You talked about children and women. What can you tell us about it?

“Among the structures we support in the south of Gaza there are also maternity hospitals, which deal with maternal and child health. Even in this case, to say that the situation is difficult is an understatement. Let's consider that these are women who in recent months they did not receive any type of pregnancy check-up.Furthermore, they themselves experienced a lack of food and water and live in terrible hygienic conditions with a high risk of transmission of pulmonary and faecal-oral diseases.

We have several cases of suspected hepatitis A , not only in women but also in children. Then there are patients who need a caesarean section, who need to be discharged but there are no safe places to go. Those returning to Italy speak of the incredible courage and determination of the Palestinian staff who continue, despite having often lost members of their family, to provide all the help they can”:

What do you ask of the international community?

“As we have been doing for some time, we are calling for a ceasefire. But this is a decision that must be made as soon as possible. There is this sense of frustration among those returning from Gaza because they realize that much more could be done, but Without a ceasefire everything is useless, because you cannot increase the flow of humanitarian aid that truly impacts people's health. We ask that all leaders do everything they can to make this happen immediately.”

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From a humanitarian point of view, what could happen?

“The catastrophe would occur before our eyes and the consequences both in the body and in the mind will last a long time. We have been present in the Strip since 1989, we have also seen other moments of violence and we already had mental health projects before October 7th.

Our appeal is linked to this and to the fact that in every war humanitarian law requires that there be safe spaces to treat people. Here, however, there are deliberate attacks even against our structures. MSF works in different conflict contexts and always communicates its position and movements to the parties involved. Despite this, here in Gaza one of our convoys that was trying to evacuate 300 people from a bomb- hit hospital was attacked, with two people dying.”

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