18 October 2023 - For immediate release
Water supplies are reaching a life-threatening low across Gaza amidst a sustained blockade on fuel, water, and food. Lack of water and the threat of waterborne diseases could cause a health catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of people and an alarming threat to the lives of pregnant and breastfeeding women and their newborn children, ActionAid is warning.
Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist based in Ramallah, in Occupied Palestinian Territory with ActionAid Spain said, “With water nearly running out throughout Gaza, the situation is critical, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Unable to access water – and amidst the continuous bombardments and displacement – dehydrated women will struggle to produce the milk they need to feed their babies and keep them alive.”
Currently, only three litres of water are available per person in Gaza, with UNRWA stating that water has only been restored across southern Gaza, providing a limited water supply to only half of the population of the city Khan Yunis, nearly 100,000 people. Water cannot be pumped across the Gaza Strip as much of the critical infrastructure needed to provide water to local communities has been destroyed and damaged in the continuous Israeli bombardment. The total collapse in water and sanitation services across Gaza also raises the threat of cholera and diarrheic diseases which are two of the leading cause of death for children under five across the world.
According to the UNDP, pregnant and lactating women need 7.5 litres a day to keep themselves and their babies healthy, but there are only 3 litres available per person in Gaza right now. Gaza is home to 50,000 pregnant women, who are currently unable to access essential health services. Some 5,500 of these women are due to give birth in the coming month.
Fuel supplies have nearly run out and hospitals are reporting that they will run out of power today, with many patients, including newborn babies in neonatal units, on life support this presents a humanitarian disaster of an unprecedented scale. [FL1]
Soraida Hussein-Sabbah said: “Access to water is universally recognised as a basic human right, meaning that the continued blockade of Gaza is a denial of the rights of women and children across Gaza. We’re urgently calling for a humanitarian corridor into Gaza and the full and uninterrupted restoration of the water supplies from Israel into Gaza.”
We have the following spokespeople available on request:
Michelle Higelin, ActionAid Australia Executive Director
Riham Jafari, Communication and Advocacy Coordinator at ActionAid in Palestine and
Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist at Alianza por la Solidaridad (ActionAid in Spain) is currently in Ramallah.
For more information and interviews with ActionAid spokespeople, please contact: Tim Brunero, 0405 285 547 / firstname.lastname@example.org
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.