Children's lives 'in danger' amid Gaza fuel shortage
by Maram Humaid, Al Jazeera, 21 Jan 2019
Gaza, Palestine - Gaza's health ministry has made an urgent appeal for help amid an ongoing fuel crisis in the coastal territory, warning of a "catastrophic situation" in its hospitals, including a children's facility.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of Gaza's health ministry, said five hospitals in the Palestinian territory would stop operating within hours, because generators were unable to operate due to the fuel shortage.
Last week, Beit Hanoun hospital in northern Gaza stopped operating.
"The lives of hundreds of patients in Gaza hospitals are under a threat of dire consequences," al-Qidra said.
Due to cold weather and increasing electricity cuts, fuel consumption has increased, leaving stocks in the five hospitals down to 17 percent, al-Qidra said.
"The austerity measures taken by the ministry are in their final moments," he said.
At the al-Rantisi hospital, Sufian Salem was waiting with his one-year old child, Mohammed, who has a breathing problem.
"He is my youngest child. He always suffers of shortness of breath with his face turning blue, so we have to rush to the hospital at any time," Salem, 36, said.
The father of five said he was unable to afford a special breathing device for his son to use at home.
"We feel very concerned due to the news of fuel crisis in hospitals. It's a disaster. If the hospital stopped, where we would go? All patient children would die, not only my child," he said.
In another corner of the hospital, Umm Karam al-Hajj was also worried about her child, Mohammed, two, who suffered from kidney failure and needed dialysis every four days.
"My son's life depends on this device as it operates as a kidney for him," she said.
"I spend between five to seven hours a day in the hospital with my son for the dialysis," she said, adding that the fuel shortage could threaten her son's life.
"To have a sick child is a great pressure; but it doubled with the dire situation in Gaza and the many crises threatening the patients," she said.
Umm Malek, 34, is similarly worried about her child, Osama, who, at one-and-a-half, still looks like a newborn baby.
"My child suffers from delayed growth due to kidney failure," she said. "He cannot eat, and only the milk keeps him alive," she said.
Al-Qidra, the health ministry official, said that at al-Rantisi hospital, at least 45 children were being admitted for kidney problems, and more than 100 children are being cared for at nurseries in Gaza.
Across Gaza, more than 250 patients also face operations, including Caesarean births, he said.
"We warn of serious repercussions due to the continued fuel crisis in Gaza," al-Qidra said, as he appealed to the international community for help.
"If the fuel is not supplied, we will be facing a heartbreaking health catastrophe.”
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has also appealed to the Palestinian Authority to intervene and deliver fuel to keep the generators at hospitals from running out of power.
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