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New Jersey doctor stranded at Gaza hospital calls on U.S. to establish humanitarian corridor for evacuation

New Jersey doctor stranded at hospital in Gaza
New Jersey doctor stranded at hospital in Gaza 02:11

NEW YORK -- A doctor from New Jersey is one of more than a dozen volunteers who are stranded at a hospital in Gaza and calling on the U.S. government to get them home. 

The group was supposed to return to the U.S. last week, but escalations by Israeli troops in nearby Rafah have led to border closures.

Dr. Ghada Abukuwaik, a pharmacist from New Jersey, is one of those stranded in the warzone. 

"I would like to go back to my kids, and to my family. I have six kids," Abukuwaik said from the hospital. 

Volunteers stranded due to border closures

The American medical professionals cannot leave safely and the next set of volunteers, currently waiting in Egypt, cannot replace them due to the border closings. 

The stranded doctors, along with the Council of American-Islamic Relations, are urging New Jersey's congressional delegation and the Biden administration to intervene and establish a humanitarian corridor for their evacuation. 

In a statement to CBS New York, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's press secretary said:

"The Governor's Office is actively engaged with our congressional delegation and the Biden Administration to ensure the safe return of Ghada Abukuwaik and Dr. Adam Hamawy. The Governor is thankful to them and their loved ones for the incredible sacrifices they have made in order to provide critical aid to the people of Rafah."

Hospital running out of supplies 

Abukuwaik said the hospital, once known as the best in Gaza, is on the verge of collapse. 

"The situation is truly hard. The demand of the medications and the surgical supplies is huge, and the resources is zero," she told CBS New York. "One house was destroyed, which is less than a minute away from the hospital, and four kids, they were killed. Those kids were all the time playing around us, and they said hi to us whenever we go to the hospital or I come back. So today, when we saw them in the ER, they were killed." 

In some ways, Abukuwaik said she's grateful three weeks into what was supposed to be a two-week mission, but getting home to her kids is the priority. 

"I'm so glad that I'm able to continue helping people," she said. "My little one is 6 years old. He's not talking to me at all, because he's upset for me. He wants me to be back, his mom."    

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