The ongoing Israeli bombing of Gaza has severely damaged the water and sanitation infrastructure, putting millions of people at risk of dehydration and disease.
How the bombing affects the water supply
According to Unicef, the UN Children’s Fund, the bombing has damaged or destroyed over 100 buildings that provide water and sanitation services to Gaza’s population. These include desalination plants, water wells, sewage networks, and pumping stations. As a result, water output has dropped to just 5% of normal levels, leaving many people without access to safe drinking water. Unicef estimates that at least 800,000 people are affected by the water crisis.
Why children are especially vulnerable
Children are among the most vulnerable groups in Gaza, as they face the risk of dehydration, malnutrition, and infectious diseases due to the lack of water and sanitation. Unicef warns that child deaths due to dehydration, particularly infant deaths, are a growing threat. Children also suffer from psychological trauma and stress caused by the bombing and displacement. Unicef says that more than 58,000 children have been displaced from their homes and are living in crowded shelters or with relatives.
What humanitarian agencies are doing
Humanitarian agencies are working to provide emergency water and sanitation services to the affected population in Gaza. Unicef is distributing water tanks, hygiene kits, chlorine tablets, and water testing kits to families and health facilities. It is also repairing damaged water infrastructure and supporting water trucking. The World Health Organization (WHO) is providing medical supplies, equipment, and fuel to health facilities. It is also supporting mobile clinics, mental health services, and disease surveillance.
What are the challenges and risks
The humanitarian response in Gaza faces many challenges and risks due to the ongoing bombing, the blockade, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The bombing has hampered the movement of humanitarian workers and supplies, as well as damaged roads and bridges. The blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt has restricted the entry of essential goods and materials into Gaza, such as fuel, spare parts, and construction materials. The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the situation, as Gaza has a high rate of infection and a low rate of vaccination.
What are the prospects for a ceasefire
The international community has been calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the calls, saying that he will continue the military operation until he achieves his goals. Hamas has also vowed to keep fighting until Israel lifts the blockade on Gaza. The UN Security Council has failed to agree on a joint statement on the crisis, due to opposition from the US, Israel’s ally.