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A doctor said it was ‘difficult to describe’ the horror of the public health catastrophe going on in the region.

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Luke O’Reilly
Independent, UK
Saturday 13 January 2024 11:00

UK aid workers inside the Gaza Strip (Humanity First UK/PA)

UK charity workers have described the “harrowing” scenes inside the Gaza Strip.
Staff from Humanity First UK, one of the first British NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to enter Gaza since the outbreak of the Israeli-Hamas conflict almost 100 days ago, spent three days assessing the situation on the ground in Rafah City this week.

Chairman of the charity, Aziz Hafiz, said it was “difficult to describe” the horror of the public health catastrophe in the region. “As a GP myself, it’s incredibly frustrating and upsetting to see so many people suffer from infections, skin conditions and injuries, without access to the most basic painkillers, antibiotics and dressings.

“Food supplies are extremely limited and famine looms especially in North Gaza, and as the winter draws in the internally displaced people (IDPs) face starvation and disease,” Dr Hafiz said.

The charity said it has established a number of infrastructure projects in the region in recent years, including water desalination plants and rooftop gardens. Osman Dean, head of emergency medical teams said the situation is becoming “untenable”. “The scenes inside Gaza are harrowing. In Rafah, the situation is becoming untenable. In just the first few hours of visiting the multiple informal campsites, it was horrific to observe the plight of the IDPs.

“I was in complete shock, and my heart wept for the people of Gaza. No human being should be subjected to such suffering.

Yousaf Aftab, director of fundraising for Humanity First UK, attended an informal IDP camp on the western side of Rafah. “The mental health burden on the most vulnerable groups is unimaginable,” he said. “The lack of basic necessities is evident as I witness young people and children queuing for up to 4 hours for non-potable water.”

“The psychological trauma will be felt for years to come.”

Israel began its military operation in the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two Palestine territories, in response to Hamas’s deadly attacks on October 7. Just over two million people live in the densely populated area which has been under the control of Hamas since 2007. It is about 25 miles long and six miles wide, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Israel and Egypt.