Man-made Crisis in Gaza, Thirst and Starvation: UN
After more than a month of war in Gaza, with Israel cutting off access to electricity, water and food, as well as no healthcare for civilians amid lack of fuel, the UN is crying foul. This week Israeli forces stepped into Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where thousands of civilians and families had taken refuge, and patients undergoing treatment.
Israeli airstrikes have hit water tanks and reservoirs, as well bakeries cutting off people from water and food. Children and women are suffering. No one has sufficient food. There’s lack of access to clean drinking water.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) director Juliette Touma said Gaza looks like it’s been hit by an earthquake, except it’s a man-made and it could have been totally avoided. “We have seen fuel, food, water and humanitarian assistance being used as weapons of war. All of this brings us back to the medieval ages.”
Thousands Forced to Leave Gaza
Touma said in the past week, they have witnessed the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1948. “People are forced to migrate en mass before our eyes and while some recall their traumas of the past, other witness the traumas of their ancestors.”
She highlighted that around 800,000 people has taken refuge in UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip. “The northern, southern and central regions of Gaza are not safe. There is no safe place in Gaza, and 103 United Nations employees who had nothing to do with this conflict lost their lives.”
There’s inadequate food, water or medical care. Cindy McCain, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, said supplies of food and water are practically nonexistent in Gaza, and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders. She added that civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation.
“Even when food has made it through, deliveries are woefully inadequate to tackle desperate hunger, with nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people needing aid and the food infrastructure no longer functional.”
Fear of Disease Outbreak in Gaza
The UN Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation Pedro Arrojo-Agudo urged Israel to allow water and fuel into the war-torn territory. He said every hour that passes with Israel preventing the provision of safe drinking water in the Gaza Strip, in brazen breach of international law, puts Gazans at risk of dying of thirst and diseases.
WHO expressed concerns about the spread of disease when the winter season comes in – diarrhea and respiratory infections rising rapidly in crowded shelters. Overcrowding in shelters and the overall lack of water and sanitation across Gaza could increase the risk of transmission.
Latest figures from Palestinian authorities state that more than 11,500 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 7,800 women and children. More than 29,200 are injured.