UK sends vital funds to help women in Gaza

Foreign Secretary David Cameron has shown further commitment by the UK to helping with the plight of civilians in Gaza, committing £4.25 million to support sexual and reproductive healthcare for women and girls.

Mr Cameron comments: “Women are bearing the brunt of the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza today. Many thousands of women are currently pregnant and will be worrying about delivering their babies safely.”

“This new UK funding will help make giving birth safer and improve the lives of mothers and their new – born babies.”

As the scale of the current conflict in the region grows, so does the suffering of civilians, meaning that vital aid for medical care is more important than ever. 85% of people are displaced and only 13 out of 36 hospitals are partially functional.

The funding will go to UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, and will take the form of providing over 110,000 women with community midwives, 20,000 menstrual hygiene kits and 45,000 clean birth delivery kits.

This is vital as only one specialist maternity hospital is functioning – with an estimated 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza at the start of the crises, 180 births occurring each day and over 5,500 women expected to deliver in the next month alone.

Speaking about the desperate need of women in Gaza currently, UNFPA Executive Director, DR Natalia Kanem comments: “In Gaza, the reality for women and girls is horrific – and getting worse each day. They have little to no access to essential health services and menstrual supplies, and many are forced to give birth in unsafe conditions that put their lives and those of babies at risk.”

This funding marks a clear commitment by the UK government in response to the growing humanitarian crises in Gaza, with the UK trebling its overall aid commitment to the region. Mr Cameron has also joined calls for a pause in hostilities in order to enable vital help to get to those that need it:

“We need to see an immediate pause in the fighting so we can secure the safe release of hostages, get more aid in and allow organisations like UNFPA to do their vital work effectively.”

Despite the step up in the UK’s aid to Gaza, many still highlight that more can be done, pointing to the challenge of actually getting the aid through to those that need it, and the need for more swift and urgent action.

Perhaps the most serious criticism of the UK aid effort is that unless the core issue of a total ceasefire, not simply a pause,  is focused on, the situation will continue to deteriorate, leading to further suffering.

Speaking on the issue, Marta Valdes Garcia, Oxfam Humanitarian Director commented:

“Our political leaders are failing – in abject weakness – to forge a ceasefire, which is the only possible humanitarian action that now really matters.”