The United Nations aid agency has issued a warning that there is a severe shortage of safe drinking water in Gaza.
Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, stated that having access to clean water is crucial for survival. Unfortunately, children in Gaza are facing extreme scarcity, with limited access to drinkable water. As a result, they are forced to use unsafe sources that are contaminated with salt or pollutants. Without access to safe water, there is a high risk of more children dying from illness and lack of basic necessities in the near future.
The call for humanitarian aid was issued following over 10 weeks of almost continuous bombing of the area, in retaliation for Hamas’s acts of terror in southern Israel. This resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people and the captivity of over 240 individuals.
Over 1.4 million displaced Gazans have sought refuge in or near facilities managed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, due to the destruction of water infrastructure caused by bombing.
According to UNICEF, children who have been displaced in the southern Rafah governorate are currently only receiving 1.5 to two liters of water per day. Additionally, the organization reports that water services in the area are on the verge of failing.
According to the UN agency, a minimum of three litres per day is estimated to be necessary for survival.
Although the shortage of drinking water is concerning, UNICEF emphasized that there are still “hundreds of thousands” of displaced individuals, half of whom are children, who are in dire need of food, shelter, medicine, and protection.
UNICEF has issued a warning that in Gaza, half of the WASH facilities, which offer essential water and sanitation services, have been either damaged or destroyed. The organization expressed concern about the effects this may have on children, who are at a higher risk for illnesses such as diarrhoea, diseases, and malnutrition.
According to UNICEF, there has been a significant increase in reported cases of diarrhoea, scabies, lice, chicken pox, skin rashes, and acute respiratory infection among children under the age of five. In fact, the number of reported cases is almost 20 times higher than the monthly average.
From the onset of the emergency, UNICEF and its collaborators have supplied fuel for the functioning of wells, desalination facilities, water transportation, and sanitation and sewage systems, as well as distributing bottled water and containers to over 1.3 million individuals.
Over 45,000 jerry cans and at least 130,000 family hygiene kits, which include menstrual health and hygiene products, have been handed out. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of bars of soap have also been distributed.
The UN organization emphasized the importance of having generators to run water and sanitation systems, as well as using plastic pipes to repair damaged plumbing. However, these items are still being prevented from entering Gaza due to limitations on access.
“UNICEF’s Ms. Russell stressed on Twitter that consistent bombing and limitations on materials and fuel are hindering crucial advancement.”
The initial caravan traveling from Jordan to Iraq.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that the initial aid shipment from Jordan successfully arrived in Gaza after extensive coordination efforts.
The United Nations agency reported that a convoy of 46 trucks transported 750 metric tons of food aid. They expressed optimism that this could result in increased and expanded aid for those who are most in need.
Advocating for a temporary cessation of hostilities
The most recent humanitarian warning was issued amidst growing global demand for a fresh ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The goal is to allow for more essential aid to be delivered to those in need.
The initial break spanned from November 24th to December 1st.
The UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, issued a warning stating that people in dire circumstances have resorted to consuming aid immediately after receiving it. Social media posts have also captured groups of individuals intercepting aid convoys and taking the supplies.
Mr. Lazzarini expressed to reporters in Geneva that makeshift shelters can be found everywhere and people are feeling desperate, hungry, and scared.
According to the latest report from UNRWA, the health authorities in Gaza have reported that over 19,450 Palestinians have died in the conflict. The report also states that around 70% of those killed were women and children.