About 15,000 babies are expected to be born in Gaza between 7 October and the end of 2023 with all of them at grave risk amid escalating violence and with medical care, water and food at crisis levels, Save the Children said.
This projection by Save the Children is based on recent UN data [ i] estimating that about 180 women give birth each day in Gaza and accounts for the rates of multiple births in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) as indicated by a recent study [ii]. About 15% of women giving birth are likely to experience pregnancy or birth-related complications.
Save the Children found that more than 66,000 babies are expected to be born in Gaza in 2023 with 5,500 pregnant women [iii] due to give birth in the coming month at a time when people are being cut off from essential supplies.
Clean water is scarce, food and medicines are running low, and pregnant or breastfeeding women are struggling to find food.
Hospitals and health facilities already facing severe shortages are under attack, putting thousands of patients, including pregnant women and newborns, in grave danger.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said over half of Gaza’s hospitals – 22 out of 36 – are now “non-functional”.
Maha-, a Save the Children staff member in Gaza who is now displaced to the south but used to shelter outside Al Shifa hospital spoke of what she witnessed a few days ago when fuel was running out:
“The scenes at the hospitals were horrible. Pregnant women in the hallways screaming in pain. Unidentified newborn babies in incubators, without any living family members. The fuel has run out, I had to flee, I don’t know if they survived.
Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory, said:
“Babies are being born into a nightmare, a humanitarian catastrophe. Their families are being cut off from the basics. Pregnant women giving birth without medical care and premature babies dying in incubators. Fuel must be allowed into Gaza to power the generators and healthcare facilities must be protected. The violence must stop. We need a ceasefire. We need it now.”