WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing – 10 January 2024 Good morning, good afternoon and good evening

While many of us celebrated the dawning of the new year with family and friends, for millions of people across the world, 2024 is not a happy New Year.

This Sunday marks the 100th day of the conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

The situation is indescribable.

Almost 90% of the population of Gaza – 1.9 million people – have been displaced, and many have been forced to move multiple times.

People are standing in line for hours for a small amount of water, which may not be clean, or bread, which alone is not sufficiently nutritious.

Only 15 hospitals are functioning even partially.

The lack of clean water and sanitation, and overcrowded living conditions are creating the ideal environment for diseases to spread.

Delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza continues to face nearly insurmountable challenges.

Intense bombardment, restrictions on movement, fuel shortages, and interrupted communications make it impossible for WHO and our partners to reach those in need.

We have the supplies, the teams and the plans in place. What we don’t have is access.

WHO has had to cancel 6 planned missions to northern Gaza since the 26th of December, when we had our last mission, because our requests were rejected and assurances of safe passage were not provided.

A mission planned for today has also been cancelled.

The barrier to delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza is not the capabilities of the UN, WHO or our partners. The barrier is access.

We call on Israel to approve requests by WHO and other partners to deliver humanitarian aid.

We continue to call for a ceasefire, but even without one, corridors can be established to allow the safe passage of humanitarian aid and workers.

We continue to call for the release of the remaining hostages.

And we continue to call on all sides to protect healthcare, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Healthcare must always be protected and respected; it cannot be attacked and it cannot be militarized.

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