‘Public Health Catastrophe’ – UN Warns Urgent Action Needed

A Palestinian child carrying her plastic container after fetching some water in Rafah. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The UN says its humanitarian partners working on water, sanitation and health issues have warned that urgent action is needed to address “the public health catastrophe” unfolding in the Gaza Strip. 

The UN has warned that urgent action is required to address the public health catastrophe unfolding in the besieged Gaza Strip, stressing that most Palestinians have “no access” to clean water. 

“Our humanitarian partners working on water, sanitation and health issues in Gaza warned yesterday that urgent action is needed to address the public health catastrophe unfolding” in Gaza, said Stéphane Dujarric, UN spokesperson for the Secretary-General at a briefing on Wednesday. 

“Most people have had no access to clean water, with only one of the three water pipelines from Israel still operating, and at less than half of its normal capacity”, Dujarric stated.

“About 83 percent of groundwater wells are out of service in Gaza, and none of the wastewater treatment (plants) are functioning.”

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He said “despite repeated warnings from ourselves and our partners about the catastrophic impact of contaminated water and poor sanitation, major challenges continue to hamper the humanitarian response in Gaza.”

This includes “import constraints, restrictions on movement and lack of safety for aid operations.”

Safe Passage Required

To improve water and health services, Dujarric emphasized, “we will need the removal of impediments to the entry and distribution of aid in Gaza, including fuel, as well as the free and safe movement of medical and humanitarian personnel.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warned earlier this month that, “access to clean water is a matter of life and death.”

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“In Gaza, every day is a struggle to find bread and water. Every day is a struggle to survive,” it said on X, adding that ‘Without safe water, many more people will die from deprivation and disease.’

On the question of Sigrid Kaag, the Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, the spokesperson said “she was in Jerusalem today to follow up on a number of pressing issues related to the situation in Gaza, and she met obviously some Israeli officials in Jerusalem.”

Kaag was appointed in December to oversee humanitarian relief shipments.

‘Access to Clean Water in Gaza is a Matter of Life and Death’ – UNRWA

More Than 29,400 Killed

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 29,410 Palestinians have been killed, and 69,465 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

(Palestine Chronicle)

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