Crisis in Gaza

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are at the core of the humanitarian catastrophe

Five months since Israel declared war on Hamas, following the brutal attacks on Israeli civilians that left over 1200 dead and more than 200 people taken hostage, the subsequent bombardment and invasion of Gaza by Israel’s military has resulted in an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented scale and severity.

Humanitarian operations continue to face immense challenges, with aid workers themselves killed, displaced, or facing mounting movement restrictions and a breakdown of civil order. Currently, humanitarian access into Gaza is severely limited.

The conflict has given rise to a public health disaster, with hospitals and medical facilities directly targeted, leaving only 12 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip partially functional, depriving the population of lifesaving medical assistance. Only two fully functioning maternity hospitals remain in the whole of Gaza. Healthcare facilities and workers have been under constant attack and are working under immense stress and hardship, without electricity and the most basic medical supplies, leading to the destruction of the entire healthcare system in Gaza.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) needs in Gaza are extremely high. Among Gaza’s population, more than 540,000 people – about one in four – are women and girls of reproductive age. According to official figures, there were an estimated 50,000 pregnant women at the start of the conflict, many are expected to experience pregnancy- or birth-related complications driving up rates of maternal mortality and morbidity.

Pregnant women are also reported to miscarry due to stress and shock and there has been a reported 25-30% increase in premature births and in stillbirths.

Over 690,000 menstruating women and adolescent girls in Gaza have limited access to menstrual hygiene products. Women and girls are also reporting a severe lack of contraceptives and a rise in cases of sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections with little to no medical treatment available. Furthermore, women and girls are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence due to shelter conditions.

In this catastrophic situation, Countdown 2030 Europe calls on European countries and the European Union to take urgent action.

Read below our factsheet with more details on the situation and our calls to action for European governments and the EU.

Illustration: © Aude Abou Nasr for IPPF