Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Gaza’s Hospitals Overwhelmed by Injured from Israel’s Military Campaign

 Palestinians walk and travel along a street, in an area where houses have been destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 9, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinians walk and travel along a street, in an area where houses have been destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 9, 2024. (Reuters)
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Gaza’s Hospitals Overwhelmed by Injured from Israel’s Military Campaign

 Palestinians walk and travel along a street, in an area where houses have been destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 9, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinians walk and travel along a street, in an area where houses have been destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 9, 2024. (Reuters)

Hazem Farjallah wails as he lies in the Gaza hospital corridor, his head bandaged and his aunt by his side, days after he was injured by Israeli bombardment and with little prospect of adequate medical care.

Hazem, 10, has not spoken since he was injured in Thursday's strike on a UN school being used as a shelter and the shrapnel wounds are visible on his back, chest and head.

"He's been lying on the ground for days. He's supposed to be in the intensive care unit. There are no mattresses," said his aunt, Umm Nasser in a video obtained by Reuters. Hazem is now in a bed but had to manage on the floor until Monday.

His plight shows the dire condition of Gaza's damaged, under equipped and understaffed hospitals eight months into Israel's military campaign against Hamas after the group's attack on Israeli communities on Oct. 7.

The collapse in Gaza's health system in the face of massive Israeli bombardment has complicated a host of other unfolding disasters, from the hunger crisis to spreading disease. It has left those with chronic conditions unable to access basic care.

But the war has also brought sudden influxes of badly injured people to the few remaining hospitals even as they struggle to access medical supplies, overwhelming doctors and nurses coping with restricted space and terrible injuries.

In Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, where Hazem is lying injured, there are not even enough stands to hold up IV drips. Hazem's aunt said she had had to hold up the packet of medicine so it would flow.

Other injured people in the hospital made the same observation and some could be seen lying with a friend or relative holding aloft the medicine pack.

"We placed the injured along the internal corridors and in between beds. There is no room at all inside this hospital for the injured. We had them sleep in external tents," said Doctor Khalil al-Dakran of al-Aqsa hospital.

There were now four or five times more injured people at the hospital than there were beds for them to use, he said.

LIFE-CHANGING INJURIES

Some of the injured are in critical condition. Raed Abu Youssef's four-year-old son Tawfik was hit in the head with shrapnel during Israel's bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday during the operation to rescue hostages.

He was taken to hospital but was so badly injured that rescuers could not find a pulse and the family believed he had died. Abu Youssef was actually digging the child's grave when he heard news Tawfik was still alive in al-Aqsa hospital.

However, his injuries still threaten his life and will certainly change it.

"It's good we were able to save his life, but we can't do more. He would definitely need closer follow up. Part of his brain will be lost," said surgeon Omar Abu Taqia.

"He definitely needs to travel because the resources are limited," he said.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Climate Change Imperils Drought-Stricken Morocco’s Cereal Farmers and Its Food Supply

 A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
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Climate Change Imperils Drought-Stricken Morocco’s Cereal Farmers and Its Food Supply

 A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
A farmer works in a wheat field on the outskirts of Kenitra, Morocco, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)

Golden fields of wheat no longer produce the bounty they once did in Morocco. A six-year drought has imperiled the country's entire agriculture sector, including farmers who grow cereals and grains used to feed humans and livestock.

The North African nation projects this year's harvest will be smaller than last year in both volume and acreage, putting farmers out of work and requiring more imports and government subsidies to prevent the price of staples like flour from rising for everyday consumers.

"In the past, we used to have a bounty — a lot of wheat. But during the last seven or eight years, the harvest has been very low because of the drought," said Al Housni Belhoussni, a small-scale farmer who has long tilled fields outside of the city of Kenitra.

Belhoussni's plight is familiar to grain farmers throughout the world confronting a hotter and drier future. Climate change is imperiling the food supply and shrinking the annual yields of cereals that dominate diets around the world — wheat, rice, maize and barley.

In North Africa, among the regions thought of as most vulnerable to climate change, delays to annual rains and inconsistent weather patterns have pushed the growing season later in the year and made planning difficult for farmers.

In Morocco, where cereals account for most of the farmed land and agriculture employs the majority of workers in rural regions, the drought is wreaking havoc and touching off major changes that will transform the makeup of the economy. It has forced some to leave their fields fallow. It has also made the areas they do elect to cultivate less productive, producing far fewer sacks of wheat to sell than they once did.

In response, the government has announced restrictions on water use in urban areas — including on public baths and car washes — and in rural ones, where water going to farms has been rationed.

"The late rains during the autumn season affected the agriculture campaign. This year, only the spring rains, especially during the month of March, managed to rescue the crops," said Abdelkrim Naaman, the chairman of Nalsya. The organization has advised farmers on seeding, irrigation and drought mitigation as less rain falls and less water flows through Morocco's rivers.

The Agriculture Ministry estimates that this year's wheat harvest will yield roughly 3.4 million tons (3.1 billion kilograms), far less than last year's 6.1 million tons (5.5 billion kilograms) — a yield that was still considered low. The amount of land seeded has dramatically shrunk as well, from 14,170 square miles (36,700 square kilometers) to 9,540 square miles (24,700 square kilometers).

Such a drop constitutes a crisis, said Driss Aissaoui, an analyst and former member of the Moroccan Ministry for Agriculture.

"When we say crisis, this means that you have to import more," he said. "We are in a country where drought has become a structural issue."

Leaning more on imports means the government will have to continue subsidizing prices to ensure households and livestock farmers can afford dietary staples for their families and flocks, said Rachid Benali, the chairman of the farming lobby COMADER.

The country imported nearly 2.5 million tons of common wheat between January and June. However, such a solution may have an expiration date, particularly because Morocco's primary source of wheat, France, is facing shrinking harvests as well.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization ranked Morocco as the world's sixth-largest wheat importer this year, between Türkiye and Bangladesh, which both have much bigger populations.

"Morocco has known droughts like this and in some cases known droughts that las longer than 10 years. But the problem, this time especially, is climate change," Benali said.