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UN warns 'urgent action is needed' amid Gaza water catastrophe

On Wednesday, the UN sounded the alarm about the severe humanitarian crisis gripping the Gaza Strip, emphasizing that "the majority" of Palestinians in the region lack access to clean drinking water.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published February 21,2024

The UN raised alarm Wednesday at the dire humanitarian catastrophe facing people in the Gaza Strip and said "most" Palestinians there lack access to clean drinking water.

"Urgent action is needed to address the public health catastrophe unfolding in the Gaza Strip," said spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, echoing calls from humanitarian workers on Tuesday.

Just one of the three pipelines that fed water to Gaza from Israel remains functional -- and is operating at under half of its intended capacity, according to the UN. Meanwhile, more than 80% of Gaza's water wells are not functional and no wastewater treatment facilities are working.

"Despite repeated warnings from ourselves and our partners about the catastrophic impact of contaminated water and poor sanitation, major challenges continue to hamper humanitarian response in Gaza, including import constraints, restrictions on movements, and lack of safety for aid operations," said Dujarric.

"To improve water and health services, 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," he added.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas. The ensuing Israeli war has killed at least 29,092 victims and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Nearly 70,000 people have been injured.

Less than 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully insufficient to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.