Israel-Gaza conflict: Medics struggle to treat Gaza's casualties as clean water and fuel run dangerously low

After hundreds of missile strikes, the UN estimates that 77 per cent of people killed there have been civilians

The aid effort in Gaza was sure to follow the first reports of civilian casualties. Yesterday, as the number of deaths and injuries increased, humanitarian workers were struggling to access those most in need.

After hundreds of missile strikes, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 77 per cent of people killed in Gaza have been civilians. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday from Gaza City, where a mosque and centre for the disabled were hit yesterday, Audrey Landmann, the medical co-ordinator for Médecins sans Frontières, said doctors were "struggling" to reach patients.

"The health system in Gaza is very fragile. It was already fragile before the beginning of the war. With the increase in patients in the hospitals, the situation can very quickly become catastrophic," she said.

She described an influx of the most severe cases including explosive injuries as the biggest problem facing doctors in the region. At Al-Shifa hospital, she said, the majority of patients are surgical cases from such explosive injuries with "mainly brain injuries or everything related to bones, fractures, displaced fracture, open fractures".

"What we are really looking for is a way to continue to treat our patients," she said. "This is the main concern for us to have humanitarian access and to be able to treat our patients. Hopefully in the coming days, we will be able to secure enough access to be able to reach our patients without risking the lives of our team."

 

Oxfam said it had to suspend efforts to chlorinate water supplies in Gaza because of the violence. Oxfam's local director, Nishant Pandey, estimated that 90 per cent of drinking water in Gaza is unsafe to drink; taps for 100,000 people have been cut off because a pipeline and wells have been destroyed. "Water pumps and sewage plants could stop functioning within days because of severe shortages of fuel," Mr Pandey warned. And according to Oxfam, hospitals in Gaza could run out of fuel to power generators within days.

A health centre in Beit Hanoun that specialises in prenatal and antenatal care was badly damaged and is now unable to operate. "We are supporting other clinics that are continuing to try to provide services, Mr Pandey said. "But many are in areas that have seen heavy air strikes, and local people are scared to try to reach them."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Joinery Shop Foreman

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Joinery Shop Foreman is required to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Bench Joiner is required to join a privately...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Recruitment and Sales People wanted f...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada