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Gaza hours away from water and sewage crisis

23 January 2008

Oxfam Release

Gaza hours from water and sewage crisis as fuel for pumps run dry

Gaza’s water and sewage systems are a matter of hours from almost total shut down as stocks of fuel to run vital pumps runs out according to international agency Oxfam.

Only 37 of the 122 water supply pumps have fuel and most will run out of fuel within hours. Only six water pumps have fuel to run for more than a day. Oxfam fears the risks of an outbreak of water borne diseases if the water and sanitation system shuts down. According to Gaza’s water authority 40 per cent of the population - 600,000 people - is now without running water. The water authority will gradually shut down the system tomorrow (Tuesday 22 January).

"Gaza’s water and sanitation system is running on empty. By Tuesday nearly all the pumps will shut down leaving civilians without running water. The risk to public health of a breakdown of the water and sanitation system is real and a massive case for concern. Israel must immediately allow fuel into Gaza to avoid any further civilian suffering. Cutting off water to civilians is both immoral and illegal, no matter what the provocation maybe," said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s Director.

"The international community has allowed this chronic emergency to deteriorate and has the responsibility to help solve this crisis. Israel must allow these urgently needed supplies into Gaza today," added Stocking.

The water and sewage system was already in danger of breakdown due to on going restrictions of goods into the Gaza Strip. There are severe shortages of spare parts, and other materials necessary for repairs and preventive maintenance. The importation of these has been repeatedly denied access since June 2007.

In March last year the massive Beit Lahia sewage lake burst its banks, drowning five in sewage and sand and swamping the surrounding village. The management of the sewage lake is dependent upon functioning pumps.

  • For more information contact:
    Sarah-Eve Hammond, Oxfam (Jerusalem), +972 5755 38638
    Michael Robin Bailey, Oxfam (Jerusalem), +972 5722 33014
    Ian Bray, Oxfam (Oxford) +44 (0)7721 461339

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