No water as diseases spread in Gaza after Israel strikes

No water as diseases spread in Gaza after Israel strikes
Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:17:59

Palestinian people have been suffering from lack of water in searing summer heat, where temperatures can reach 34 degrees Celsius and skin diseases spread throughout Gaza Strip.

Ferial al-Zaaneen hasn't had a shower in more than a month. Like thousands of Palestinians, she doesn't have enough water to wash, adding to the miseries of life in war-battered Gaza.

Ferial is one of more than 218,000 refugees sheltering in 87 UN-run schools from a conflict that has killed at least 1,980 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since July 8. "There's no water here and the toilets are very dirty, this is no kind of life," she said.

Zaaneen, her children and grandchildren, some 50 people, fled the Israeli bombardment of their homes. She faces a daily struggle to get water, a precious resource in the enclave which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.

The UN says that 365,000 Palestinians are still displaced in Gaza, like 37-year-old Faten al-Masri, who has to wash her children with bottles of drinking water.

As she sprinkles cold water on her two-year-old daughter, the toddler screams, her skin covered in angry red blotches. "All my children got sick here because of the dirt and the lack of hygiene, they've all got skin infections and scabs," Faten said.

"There is no water in the bathrooms, and they were so dirty that we couldn't even go inside," she said. "I have been bathing my sons every three days in the classroom with bottles of water."

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza, says skin diseases, rashes and itchiness have been reported in shelters housing refugees.

Among the children, there have been "many cases of chronic diarrhea" and "several cases of meningitis reported", he added.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), says there are water shortages not only in shelters for the displaced but across the entire enclave.

"Because of the Israeli bombardment of the infrastructure, there is a lack of water across the Gaza Strip," he said.

Most residents suffered from water shortages even before the war, but now Monzer Shoblak, an official from the local water board, said war damage meant that Gaza was pumping 50 percent less water.


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