In Gaza, babies die of kidney failure: Mothers have no milk to breastfeed

"Ali was born in the war and there was no food or anything for his mother to eat so she had no milk so the baby died of dehydration and kidney failure," said the devastated father

by Sededin Dedovic
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In Gaza, babies die of kidney failure: Mothers have no milk to breastfeed
© Annice Lyn / Getty Images

The father of a Palestinian boy, Ali, who recently died of malnutrition and dehydration in the only pediatric hospital in northern Gaza, has made a desperate appeal for help to save other children being treated there. The call for help comes as the UN warns of potential famine if the delivery of humanitarian aid does not increase significantly, the BBC reports.

"Ali was born amidst the horrors of war, at a time when there was not enough food for any member of our family. It caused his kidneys to fail," said Ali's father - who wished to remain anonymous - in an interview with the BBC Arabic Gaza Lifeline radio service.

"Ali's health condition was rapidly deteriorating day by day. Despite attempts at treatment in hospitals, there was no way to save him. He died while the whole world watched him fight for his life. It seems that we Palestinians are not human and we are left to fend for ourselves," he said deeply.

a shaken father. Sadly, Ali is just one of at least 10 children the World Health Organization team said died of malnutrition at the overcrowded Kamal Advan hospital in the city of Beit Lahija after a visit last weekend.

Palestinian children carry banners during a march demanding an end to the war and an end to the famine that citizens suffer from© Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Gaza's Ministry of Health reported the deaths of 18 children due to malnutrition and dehydration across the territory since last week, with at least 15 deaths occurring at Kamal Advan Hospital.

There are also concerns about six babies reportedly being treated for malnutrition at the same hospital. Mothers don't have enough food, so their body can't produce enough milk, which leads to baby dehydration and kidney failure.

Babies only a few months old eat flour mixed with water, incredible images that are too much for a horror movie. UNICEF, the UN children's agency, has warned that the number of children dying of starvation is likely to rise rapidly if the conflict between Israel and Hamas is not ended and obstacles to humanitarian aid are not removed immediately.

However, Israeli officials still claim that this is a war against terrorists and that an attack on Rafah, where there are one and a half million Palestinian refugees, is inevitable. Gaza's health ministry says children and women make up 70% of the more than 30,700 people who have been killed and 72,000 injured in the territory since the war began.

Estimates say that around 300,000 people are currently isolated in northern Gaza, where hunger has reached catastrophic levels, according to the World Food Programme, as only a small amount of humanitarian aid manages to reach.

Once a beautiful city by the sea, with many old buildings and a handful of children, now it looks like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie, and the children who played in the streets last summer are either dead or have nothing to eat.

Malnutrition checks carried out by UN agencies in January revealed that one in six children under the age of two is acutely malnourished. Of those children, nearly three percent suffered from severe exhaustion and required emergency treatment.

Thousands of Palestinian children have been orphaned, most of them manage and survive on their own. These are the children who were forced to grow up suddenly by the war.

Palestinian children carry empty bowls during a march demanding an end to the war and an end to the famine that citizens suffer © Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Lack of food, safe water and medical services, as well as the exhaustion and trauma caused by the conflict, also hinder the ability of mothers to breastfeed their babies.

Without breast milk or formula - supplies of which are in the north, you could say exhausted babies can quickly become severely dehydrated and malnourished. The world was shocked by the images of a mother feeding her three-month-old child with dates, or the boy Adwan, who at the age of 12 lives alone in a tent with his 6-month-old sister, and their parents were killed at the beginning of this brutal conflict.

Dr. Samia Abdel Jalil, who works in the intensive care unit at Kamal Advan Hospital, said in an interview with Gaza Lifeline that the girl and her older sister died in the hospital within days. "We had difficulty getting milk for the whole ward, not just for that little girl," she recalls.

"She died without a basic nutritional supplement." Salah Samara, a four-month-old boy, is one of the seriously ill children that Dr. Abdel Jalil and her colleagues are trying to treat with the limited resources at their disposal.

His mother said Salah was born prematurely and severely dehydrated, and now suffers from chronic kidney disease and urinary retention, which causes extreme pain and bloating. "My heart aches for what is happening to him. It's very difficult to see your child suffering every day because he can't urinate and the doctors can't help him.

He has the right to treatment and everything else that belongs to him, because he is a child at the beginning of his life. His condition is getting worse every day. He urgently needs treatment abroad. I hope that everyone who hears my voice will help in the treatment of my child" said Salah's mother.

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