Father in Gaza travels more than 8 miles in wheelchair to get child’s first vaccine

London and Gaza–Osama Abu Safar is a Palestinian activist and journalist. He is also a wheelchair user who is struggling with the new reality of his life after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, which displaced him and his family from their home in the Gaza Strip.

Shortly after the conflict began following Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, which killed more than 1,200 people, they fled their homes in the Deir al-Balah camp, the center of Gaza, and are now in UN relief. Taking refuge and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools.

Abu Safar said the journey from his home to the shelter was not easy.

“I was dragging myself in a wheelchair with my kids,” he told ABC News on Monday.

But a few weeks later, she decided to make an even more difficult journey — driving 8 miles from the shelter to a clinic to take her 4-month-old baby for a routine vaccination.

“It was dangerous because the bombing didn’t stop and I was afraid of getting injured at any moment,” he told ABC News. But she was determined that her son would not miss his first vaccination.

Routine vaccination rates inside Gaza were high before the conflict began, about 90% coverage according to UNICEF, but since the war began many Gazan parents have not been able to care for their children, like Abu Sefar, UNICEF According to the United Nations agency that provides humanitarian assistance to children..

UNICEF is warning that thousands of children in the Gaza Strip are now being deprived of routine vaccinations, raising the possibility of a major health crisis.

“The main issue now is that child health services are at the brink of collapse,” UNICEF spokesman Toby Fricker told ABC News on Wednesday. He further said, “We are extremely concerned about the massive decline in routine vaccination rates, which will impact children, especially young children under the age of 5, for the spread of diseases, which pose a major threat.” is, especially as the winter months approach,”

“If routine vaccination coverage declines significantly, the risk of foodborne and other disease spread would be lethal,” Fricker said.

According to UNRWA, approximately 1.6 million people have been displaced in the Gaza Strip since October 7, when Israel launched its military campaign in response to a Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis and injured at least 6,900. Had happened. , according to Israeli officials.

At least 11,500 people have been killed in Gaza, with another 29,800 injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

“Approximately 795,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are now sheltering in 154 UNRWA facilities in all five governorates of the Gaza Strip, including the North,” UNRWA said in its most recent statement on the situation in Gaza.

International agencies and aid groups have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid Israel’s offensive to destroy Hamas.

These UNRWA shelters are so overcrowded that people living there barely have access to basic amenities, Abu Seifer said.

“They’re not equipped to accommodate all the people,” Abu Safar told ABC News. He said that he and his family have been living in these difficult conditions for almost six weeks. He said there was a lack of cleanliness and they were sleeping on mattresses on the floor. He is especially concerned about his wife, who is breastfeeding.

“My three children have gastroenteritis and their mother is sick from polluted water,” he said.

As a family, they struggle with the scarce resources at the UNRWA school. “I try, I run, I go from the bread line to the water line and try to be with my children,” Abu Safar told ABC News.

Like many Gazans, he said, night time is the hardest.

He told ABC News, “All the fear and terror begins at night. We believe that we will not wake up as survivors of a horrific bombing.”

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