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Pregnant women in Gaza say they are being forced to have c-sections by torchlight with no anaesthetic as bombardment continues

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Pregnant women in Gaza are reportedly having to undergo c-section deliveries by torchlight and without anaesthetic in the beleaguered Strip amid continuous bombardment by Israel.

‘The chaos and horror unleashed in Gaza is affecting women in devastating ways,’ said Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, a gender and advocacy specialist at ActionAid UK, based in Ramallah, the West Bank.

‘Conditions in hospitals are dangerous, C-sections and major surgery is being performed with only the torch on a phone providing light as they undertake complex medical procedures as the bombs fall around them.’

Some 50,000 pregnant women live in the Gaza Strip and are among the vulnerable groups suffering from shortages of medical equipment, food, and water.

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In Gaza, where more than half of the 2.1mn population are children, around 160 are expected to be born every day, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The United Nations previously reported a ‘race against death’ for pregnant women living in Gaza amid a ‘complete siege’ of the enclave and unrelenting airstrikes in response to Hamas’ October 7 incursion into southern Israel.

Their report claimed a pregnant woman was discharged just three hours after giving birth to a baby girl to make space for other arrivals.

One medical consultant in Khan Younis described the stress for pregnant women living through the war.

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‘There are women who have been displaced from their places of residence to other areas, which means changing the health centres which had previously monitored their condition,’ Walid Abu Hatab told Al Jazeera.

‘This makes access to them very difficult for them as they need primary care and follow-up sessions during the various periods of pregnancy.’

The United Nations Population Fund called for ‘urgent health care and protection’ for pregnant women as many suffered without regular check ups.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee to hospitals in search of aid and power as resources to the strip were cut off.

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‘Our medical teams are overwhelmed and have been working tirelessly around the clock since the start of the escalation,’ said Dr. Mohammad Abu Salmiya, the director of Al Shifa hospital.

‘We’re relying on a very limited fuel supply to maintain our operations. If we run out of fuel, the hospital may be repurposed as a mass burial site.’

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