The ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip has given rise to a humanitarian crisis, affecting the most vulnerable populations, particularly those with disabilities. Heba Hagrass, the newly appointed UN special rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities, has emphasized the critical need for unconditional and unrestricted humanitarian aid access in the region.
According to Hagrass, the repeated exposure to armed conflicts in Gaza has led to an increasing disability rate among the local population. Hagrass pointed out the unique challenges faced by people with disabilities during such conflicts.
Their difficulty in accessing safe places is compounded by the denial of essential services like electricity, water, and food, which escalates the risks they face, including the risk of loss of life. She urged the parties involved in the conflict to consider the specific needs of people with disabilities, especially given the lack of safe and accessible transportation and the absence of necessary mobility equipment.
The Struggle for Survival: Premature Babies and Livestock
In a related development, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported on the dire situation of prematurely born babies in Gaza. A WHO spokesperson informed Reuters that while 28 premature babies have been evacuated to Egypt, three remain in southern Gaza at the Emarati Hospital, requiring ongoing treatment.
These infants are battling serious infections, underscoring the critical need for continued healthcare support in the region. Furthermore, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has shed light on the worsening situation in northern Gaza, where livestock is at risk of starvation due to fodder and water shortages.
This crisis is not limited to livestock; crops are also suffering due to a lack of fuel for irrigation. The desperation has led farmers to slaughter animals for immediate food needs, posing an additional threat to long-term food security by depleting productive assets.
These developments in Gaza highlight the multi-faceted nature of the crisis, affecting not only people with disabilities but also the broader population, including infants and the agricultural sector. The urgent need for comprehensive and sustained humanitarian assistance remains a critical priority.