ICRC President Maurer is in Gaza this week to see for himself the suffering of civilians and to meet ICRC and PRCS humanitarian staff. During the current ceasefire he was able to visit the neighbourhood of Shijaiya in Gaza City where thousands of homes have been reduced to dust and rubble in recent days of heavy bombardment and hostilities.
In Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza City, the President met medical staff and patients. Visiting the children’s ward he expressed his shock, “We have seen a lot of children here suffering a lot of serious injuries. And you can only be shocked and shaken by what you see as a consequence of the war here.”
He commented on the discrepancy between the provisions of international humanitarian law concerning protection of civilians and the reality faced by the people of Gaza during the month-long conflict, saying, “ You see that people haven't been protected so there is a huge discrepancy between the law as it stands and the reality with which we’ re confronted today. And this is of course a huge challenge to an organization like the ICRC. “
Al Shifa Hospital is the largest referral hospital in Gaza, with over 600 beds. It has received the largest number of war wounded, killed and critical cases, and carried out the largest number of surgical operations of all the medical facilities in Gaza during the last month of hostilities. ICRC has supplied medical materials and two surgeons to assist resident staff.
Dr Mauro della Tore an ICRC surgeon working in Al Shifa explains how the hospital has to treat hundreds of incoming wounded in a very short time frame, up to 160 wounded in 20 minutes, describing it as ‘very overcrowded… chaotic but functional’.
Today the president continues his visit, going to a hospital in Ashkelon (south of Israel), meeting representatives of the Magen David Adom then Palestinian Authorities in Ramallah, (West Bank). Tomorrow, he will have more meetings with high-level Israeli officials.
Production: Jan Powell, Rama Humeid
ICRC ref: AV205N
Date: 6 August 2014
Copyright: ICRC - access all
00:00 Shijaiya residential district, Gaza City. Shelled ruins of houses and apartment blocks - various
00:14 President Peter Maurer, ICRC walks through ruins
00:38 Maurer arrives at Al Shifa Hospital , Gaza City
00:56 SOUNDBITE: Dr Mauro della Torre ICRC surgeon, Al Shifa Hospital
“This is the emergency room. This is the gate of hell… this is where they face the first drama … this is you see a small space. Nevertheless a few days ago we had 160 wounded in 20 minutes. So it means overcrowded. It was impossible to work, chaotic but functional. This is the strategy they have adapted they have a huge experience of this, nevertheless, the emotional impact is very hard .
01:28 Children’s ward, various shots wounded children
02:19 ITW Peter Maurer , President ICRC "
It was for me of critical importance to have a first sight impression, to also be able to interact with the team..."
02:29 "We have seen a lot of children here suffering. A lot of serious injuries. And you can only be shocked and shaken by what you see as a consequence of the war here in this hospital..."
02:48 "With the amount of patients coming to the hospital almost everything is needed in terms of trauma surgery, and treatment and this is of course an area in which we are committed to continue to also to strengthen our work and support..."
03:12 "You see that people haven't been protected so there is a huge discrepancy between the law as it stands and the reality with which we’ re confronted today. And this is of course a huge challenge to an organization like ICRC. But it is a huge challenge to the international community..."