Aid agencies express concern about humanitarian crisis facing Gaza

Published: 14 July 2006

Save the Children UK, Christian Aid and Oxfam International fear that escalating violence in Gaza will lead to a humanitarian crisis for over 1.3 million Palestinians.

Without electricity, following the military strike on Gaza’s sole power station, three key sewage treatments plants are now out of action and over one hundred municipal water wells can no longer operate normally. The agencies warn that health services are collapsing, untreated sewage threatens to flood the streets, and without electricity the supply of water could stop.

Action must be taken by both Israel and the Palestinians to stop this deteriorating situation and bring a peaceful end to the crisis. All parties, including the international community, have a responsibility to protect civilians from violence.

The Government of Israel must end its continuing destruction of civilian infrastructure, including electrical generators and water pipelines necessary for survival and immediately restore supplies of food, medicine, electricity, fuel and water as well as opening the Karni crossing for goods. Palestinian armed groups must stop indiscriminate attacks on Israel that harm civilians, including firing Qassam rockets into Israel. The international community also has a duty under international law to ensure the protection of all civilians.

Adam Leach, Regional Director from Oxfam said: "Ordinary Palestinians are suffering from the destruction of bridges, water pipelines and electricity supplies - all things that civilians are entitled to and depend upon. Hundreds of thousands of people are without a regular supply of water. Many of our vital water projects had already been interrupted because of prolonged Israeli restrictions stopping supplies entering Gaza. Peoples basic rights are being denied – this does nothing to secure a just and lasting peace in the region.”

Mr. Leach said: “The crisis comes as hundreds of thousands of families in Gaza and the West Bank are struggling to survive without an income because of the suspension of tax payments by the Government of Israel and aid by the international community to the Palestinian Authority.”

Jasmine Whitbread Chief Executive of Save the Children added: "In May, Save the Children warned of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. Today we fear that the situation is sliding towards a humanitarian catastrophe. Children are suffering from acute anxiety and fear from ongoing Israeli military attacks and aerial bombardment. These attacks have also targeted civilian structures, including schools. Families, warned of new incursions, are already preparing to flee from targeted areas. Children as always are most affected."

Christian Aid works with local NGOs in Gaza and one of their partners, the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) who work in Khan Younis, have warned how people are being affected living without water and electricity.

Majeda al Saqqa of CFTA said: "Gaza is now very hot and humid with temperatures constantly over thirty degrees. Without power, people cannot pump water up to their flats. Old people cannot reach hospital if they live in high buildings. At least 200 surgical operations have been cancelled.”

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

William Bell, Christian Aid: 44 (0) 20 7523 2039 / (0) 7973 827 535

Shaista Aziz, Oxfam: 44 (0) 1865 473152 / 44 (0) 781 081 4980

Laura Conrad, Save the Children: 44 (0) 20 7012 6847