Red Cross responds to vast medical needs in Rafah

The new hospital has already treated people injured in airstrikes at the weekend and has specialist departments for emergency services, maternity and paediatric care.

Earlier this month the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) opened a field hospital in Rafah, supported by 12 National Societies, including the British Red Cross.

It has already provided vital healthcare for people in Gaza, including dozens of those injured in airstrikes in Rafah over the May bank holiday weekend.

Medical teams treated burns and shrapnel wounds, and carried out life-saving emergency operations. The Palestine Red Crescent Society provided critical emergency medical aid.

Gabriel Karlsson, British Red Cross country manager says: “Tragically, civilians continue to pay the highest price of this conflict. The healthcare system has all but collapsed and access to healthcare is a question of life or death.

"The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is doing all it can to get lifesaving aid to people. This includes food, medical care and setting up temporary field hospitals where they are needed."

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Dr Sandy

Dr Sandy Inglis, ICRC senior medical officer describes responding to a mass casualty event at the new field hospital

Overwhelming medical needs in Gaza

The new field hospital in Rafah is helping to meet some of the overwhelming medical needs in Gaza, complementing the vital work of the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

For months, people in Gaza have been struggling to access medical care due to the overwhelming demands for health services and the collapse of most functioning health facilities.

Based in Rafah – where more than 1.4 million displaced people had spent months sheltering from the conflict – the 60-bed field hospital will provide mass casualty management, triage and emergency surgical care, along with an outpatient department.

It is also providing vital services to women and children, including maternal, new-born and paediatric care.

The hospital is desperately needed. Crumbled health facilities, disrupted water and electricity supplies as well as a severe lack of food and medicines, have driven healthcare in Gaza to the brink of collapse.

Since the start of the conflict, exhausted medical teams across Gaza have been overwhelmed with severely injured patients needing immediate surgery, including amputations.

And a sharp rise in highly contagious diseases, such as acute respiratory infection, gastrointestinal illness and skin disease, caused by a lack of clean water and overcrowding, is also causing growing alarm.

Continuation of care for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart failure, along with obstetric care has all but ground to a standstill.


Supporting the vital work of the Palestine Red Crescent Society

So far, the Palestine Red Crescent Society has supported over 200,000 people with health services, and more than 18,000 people with emergency medical services. They have also provided psychosocial support to nearly 72,000 deeply traumatised people. 

These services have been carried out, despite tragic loss of their own.

Eighteen Palestine Red Crescent Society team members have now been killed and its two hospitals have been forced to evacuate and close on several occasions. Several emergency medical service points and 25 ambulances are now too damaged to function.

Yet the Palestine Red Crescent Society continues to serve its community, running three advanced medical points, six medical points, and three clinics, in addition to its emergency response.

To support the Palestine Red Crescent Society as they recover from these devastating losses and to provide reinforcement, the ICRC and participating National Societies are sending 30 humanitarian experts to the field hospital.

These include surgeons, doctors, anaesthetists, nurses, technicians, engineers, logisticians, and administrators, who will work alongside Palestine Red Crescent Society teams.

It’s hoped that the Red Cross field hospital will provide life-saving care to up to 200 patients a day.

More than 15 years of healthcare support in Gaza

Since 7 October 2023, the International Committee of the Red Cross has deployed two surgical teams to the European Gaza Hospital, which have performed more than 1,625 surgical procedures.

They have also supplied 160 metric tonnes of medical supplies to eight health facilities, as well as supporting 14 more with emergency power supplies.

The ICRC has been providing healthcare support in Gaza for more than 15 years. With health needs growing by the day, it has reiterated its call for the protection of medical facilities under international humanitarian law.

It asserts that no patient should be killed while lying in a hospital bed. No doctors, nurses, or medical personnel should have to risk their lives to save others.

And that hospitals are sanctuaries to treat the wounded and sick. International humanitarian law requires that the medical mission, including infrastructure, is respected and protected.

Help people in Gaza

Doctors and nurses from across the Red Cross Movement are battling to save lives in Gaza. If you'd like to support initiatives like our field hospital, please donate to the Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory Appeal if you can. 

Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory Appeal

Help us provide medical support to people affected by the crisis in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory. The situation is critical.


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