Turkey calls for abolishing health restrictions on Gaza
GENEVA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey on May 22 urged the World Health Organization (WHO) and other U.N. agencies to take measures to stop restrictions on the movement of patients, health staff and essential medicines in the besieged Gaza Strip.
“People in the occupied Palestine territory are in dire need of medicines, medical equipment and beds,” Turkish Health Ministry Undersecretary Eyüp Gümüş said at the WHO’s 71st annual World Health Assembly in Geneva.
Noting the recent Israeli attacks which killed scores of people and injured about 3,000 people within the last week, Gümüş said: “The restrictions imposed on the movement of patients, health staff, essential medicine and medical consumables have hindered the functioning of the health system.”
“These restrictions are illegal, inhumane and unacceptable,” he added.
“Turkey made every effort to transfer the injured and deliver supplies, but restricted by the occupying country and some neighboring countries,” he said.
At least 65 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire during protests in eastern Gaza on May 14. Thousands more were injured.
The demonstration coincided with the Nakba and the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Since the Gaza rallies began on March 30, more than 110 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by Israeli army gunfire.
Gümüş urged the world to take notice of the suffering of the Palestinians.
“I invite WHO and other U.N. agencies to take the necessary steps. I also invite all countries to not stay silent for people suffering in Gaza,” he said.
About health services for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Gümüş said: “We leave no one behind; we provide health services to around 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey free of charge and in the same quality that we provide to our citizens.”
Dr. Akihiro Seita, director of health for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said the restrictions on medical evacuation in Gaza should be lifted.
He also criticized the restrictions by Israel on Turkey’s effort to transfer injured people from Gaza.
Since March 30, 12,000 people were injured in Gaza during demonstrations on Fridays and 3,500 of them were injured by gunshots, according to WHO, Seita said.