The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday detailed the grave humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Gaza, particularly at Al-Shifa Hospital after a joint UN humanitarian assessment team risked their lives to access the hospital and evaluate the dire situation amid the Israeli airstrikes in Hamas-controlled strip.
The mission, coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to secure a safe route, took place amid heavy fighting in close proximity to the hospital, according to the WHO.
During their one-hour mission inside the hospital, the team, which included public health experts, logistics officers and security staff from OCHA, UNDSS, UNMAS/UNOPS, UNRWA and WHO, described the situation as “desperate” and the hospital itself as a “death zone.”
“Signs of shelling and gunfire were evident. The team saw a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital and was told more than 80 people were buried there,” the WHO statement said.
Once the largest and most advanced referral hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa has been crippled due to clean water, fuel, medicines, and food shortages, WHO said.
The hospital, unable to admit new patients, now directs the injured and sick to the overwhelmed Indonesian Hospital. Currently, 25 health workers and 291 patients remain at Al-Shifa, including 32 critically ill babies, 2 individuals in intensive care without ventilation, and 22 dialysis patients facing compromised access to life-saving treatment, according to the UN health agency.
“WHO and partners are urgently developing plans for the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients, staff and their families,” it said.
“Over the next 24–72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict, additional missions are being arranged to urgently transport patients” to other hospitals in the south of Gaza.
WHO repeated its call for an immediate ceasefire and sustained humanitarian assistance, saying options for medical care in the small coastal enclave were dwindling.