Sun, 10 Dec 2023

France will send more medical supplies and a second hospital ship to Gaza and is ready to welcome injured children in need of emergency care, President Emmanuel Macron's office said in a statement on Sunday. The UN has described the civilian death toll in Gaza as "staggering and unacceptable" and again urged a humanitarian ceasefire.

France will send an airplane with more than 10 tonnes of medical supplies at the start of the week, and will contribute to European Union medical aid flights on 23 and 30 November.

France is also preparing a second hospital ship, the helicopter-carrier Dixmude, which will arrive in Egypt in the coming days, the Elysee presidential palace said.

A first French helicopter carrier - the Tonnerre, which has about 60 beds and two operating blocs - has already been deployed in the region.

France will also deploy civil and military planes to evacuate sick or injured children from Gaza, the statement added.

France's Macron calls for ceasefire at Gaza donor conference, boosts aid

In a social media post, Macron said that up to 50 children could be flown for treatment in hospitals in France "if useful and necessary".

Sick babies evacuated

The announcement followed a visit by medics from the UN's World Health Organization to the Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza.

The UN announced plans to evacuate the facility, as Israel's army said it was expanding operations to destroy the Islamist militant group Hamas following its 7 October attack on Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage.

At least 12,300 Palestinians, including more than 5,000 children, have been killed in Israel's retaliatory air and ground offensive on Gaza, according to the Hamas authorities that govern Gaza.

The majority of deaths on both sides were civilians.

A United Nations team said that 291 patients,including 32 babies, were left at Gaza's largest hospital on Saturday after Israeli troops ordered others to evacuate.

On Sunday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that 31 of the "very sick" babies had been evacuated - along with six health workers and 10 staff family members - to a hospital in southern Gaza for urgent care.

They would later be moved to Egypt, he said.

Negotiations for hostage release

President Macron on Saturday discussed the situation of the 240 hostages - eight of whom are French citizens - with the Emir of Qatar Cheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

Qatar is leading negotiations for the hostages' release and its prime minister said on Sunday that a deal to free all the hostages now hinged on "minor" practical issues, without providing details or a timeline.

Macron says 'everything will be done' to bring back French hostages from Gaza

Macron and al-Sissi agreed on "the necessity to increase the number of lorries entering Gaza and reinforcing coordination efforts to allow delivery of humanitarian aid and the treatment of injured patients," the Elysee said.

Earlier this month, French planes delivered 54 tonnes of aid for Gaza via Egypt.

Originally published on RFI

More Europe News

Access More

Sign up for Europe News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!