Nearly 20,000 babies born into Gaza war 'hell': UN

Nearly 20,000 babies born into Gaza war 'hell': UN


US said on Friday that thousands of babies had been born in conditions "beyond belief" in Gaza.

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GENEVA (AFP) - The United Nations said that thousands of babies had been born in conditions "beyond belief" in Gaza since the war there erupted more than three months ago.

Spokeswoman Tess Ingram, back from a recent visit to the Gaza Strip, described mothers bleeding to death and one nurse who had performed emergency caesareans on six dead women.

Nearly 20,000 babies have been born into the war that began after the Hamas attacks inside Israel on Oct 7, according to the UN children's agency UNICEF.

"That's a baby born into this horrendous war every 10 minutes," Ingram told reporters in Geneva via video link from Oman.

"Becoming a mother should be a time for celebration. In Gaza, it's another child delivered into hell."

She stressed the need for urgent international action.

"Seeing newborn babies suffer, while some mothers bleed to death, should keep us all awake at night."

Hamas's Oct 7 attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Israel has vowed to "annihilate" Hamas in response.

Its relentless air and ground offensive has killed at least 24,762 Palestinians, around 70 per cent of them women, children and adolescents, according to figures from the Hamas-run health ministry.

Ingram described "heartbreaking" meetings with women caught up in the chaos.


One woman, Mashael, was pregnant when her house was hit and her husband buried under the rubble for several days, and her baby stopped moving.

"She says she is sure now, about a month later, that the baby is dead," Ingram said. But, she added: "She is still waiting for medical care."

Mashael had told her it was best "a baby isn't born into this nightmare", she said.

Ingram also told the story of a nurse named Webda, who said she had performed emergency caesareans on six dead women in the last eight weeks.

"Mothers face unimaginable challenges in accessing adequate medical care, nutrition, and protection before, during and after giving birth," Ingram said.

"The situation of pregnant women and newborns in the Gaza Strip is beyond belief, and it demands intensified and immediate actions."

Ingram pointed out that the Emirati Hospital in Rafah was now catering to the vast majority of pregnant women in Gaza.

"Struggling with overcrowded conditions and limited resources, staff are forced to discharge mothers within three hours of a caesarean," she said.

"These conditions put mothers at risk from miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm labour, maternal mortality and emotional trauma."

Pregnant and breastfeeding women and infants were living in "inhumane" conditions, including makeshift shelters, with poor nutrition and unsafe water, she said.

This, she warned, was "putting approximately 135,000 children under two at risk of severe malnutrition".

"Humanity cannot allow this warped version of normal to persist any longer. Mothers and newborns need a humanitarian ceasefire."