‘Water crisis imminent in besieged Gaza Strip’

‘Water crisis imminent in besieged Gaza Strip’
Sat Jun 1, 2013 16:14:24

An imminent water crisis threatens the besieged Gaza Strip, due to Israeli regime’s apartheid blockade of the impoverished territory, according to a report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

More than 95% of underground water for domestic consumption is contaminated to varying degrees, which portends the spread of diseases among locals and would make the area unlivable, the report said.

Water for the 1.6 million people – half of them children and two-thirds refugees – who live in just 365sq km of land bordering the Mediterranean comes entirely from the shallow coastal aquifer shared between Gaza, occupied territories and Egypt, which is only partly replenished each year by rainfall.

Decades of over-pumping and heavy pollution from salts and waste water has left the aquifer highly degraded and in danger of irreparable damage.

It was also noted in the report that potable water could run out as early as 2016 due to the increasing population and consumption rates as wells as damage to wells, which serve as the main water source.

Ahmed al-Yaghoubi, a top official from Gaza’s water resources office, says the coastal strip has a high rate of population growth and number of people increases while available water resources can hardly answer current needs of people. “We have been having this problem for more than two years and it is getting worse by the day,” he said.

Israel first imposed its land, sea and air blockade on Gaza in 2006 then it further tightened the siege in mid-2007 when resistance movement Hamas took control of Gaza, then eased somewhat following the international outcry after Israel's botched raid on the flotilla.

Three weeks after the flotilla incident, Israel moved to ease restrictions on imports of food and building materials for internationally-funded projects approved by the Palestinian Authority.

And the terms were further eased after an eight-day confrontation between Israel and Hamas in November 2012 that ended with a ceasefire.

As a result of the blockade, unemployment within Gaza's population of 1.6 million stands at 34%with 44% suffering from food insecurity and 80% dependent on donor aid, according to OCHA, the UN's humanitarian agency.

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