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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
22 August 2017

Amid scorching heatwave, access to water and electricity down by one-third in the Gaza Strip

All children in the Gaza Strip are at risk of waterborne diseases; incidence of diarrhea in children under three years old has doubled

JERUSALEM, 22 August 2017 – The worsening electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip has left families with less than six hours of daily power supply. Half of the 2 million people living in the coastal enclave are children.

The power shortages have decreased access to water by one third in the past four months.

Over 450 water and wastewater facilities are affected by the electricity shortages, raising the risk of waterborne diseases amid hot summer temperatures. Diarrhea cases among children under the age of three have more than doubled in three months.

“Between the heat, the lack of electricity, the smell of sewage and worries about water-borne diseases, families are under extreme stress,” said Genevieve Boutin, UNICEF Special Representative in the State of Palestine, during her visit to the Gaza Strip last week.

The UNICEF-supported seawater desalination plant funded by the European-Union - which was built to provide safe drinking water for 75,000 people - is providing water at reduced capacity and is dependent on generators powered by emergency fuel.

More than 100,000 cubic meters of poorly treated sewage is being dumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day. More than two-third of this coastline is now polluted at a time when beaches are one of the few places of recreation and respite for children.

Vital services for children, including hospitals, now depend on back-up generators that are kept running by humanitarian fuel provision.

All responsible parties must work to resolve the water, sanitation and electricity crisis now, so children can access the basic services they need -- health, water, sanitation, education and protection -- which are their rights and are essential for their survival and well-being. Inaction is not an option.

UNICEF is facing a critical funding shortage of US$16 million to respond to the urgent needs of children in the Gaza Strip, including US$5.9 million to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and essential hygiene to vulnerable communities and to support essential and life-saving child health interventions.

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