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Gaza hours from water and sewage crisis as fuel for pumps run dry

May 10, 2010

Gaza’s water and sewage systems are a matter of hours from
almost total shut down as stocks of fuel to run vital pumps runs out
according to international agency Oxfam.

Only 37 of the 122 water supply pumps have fuel and most will run out
of fuel within hours. Only six water pumps have fuel to run for more
than a day. Oxfam fears the risks of an outbreak of water borne
diseases if the water and sanitation system shuts down. According to
Gaza’s water authority 40 per cent of the population – 600,000 people –
is now without running water. The water authority will gradually shut
down the system tomorrow (Tuesday 22 January).

“Gaza’s water and sanitation system is running on empty. By Tuesday
nearly all the pumps will shut down leaving civilians without running
water. The risk to public health of a breakdown of the water and
sanitation system is real and a massive case for concern. Israel must
immediately allow fuel into Gaza to avoid any further civilian
suffering. Cutting off water to civilians is both immoral and illegal,
no matter what the provocation maybe,” said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Great Britain’s Director.

“The international community has allowed this chronic emergency to
deteriorate and has the responsibility to help solve this crisis.
Israel must allow these urgently needed supplies into Gaza today,”
added Stocking.

The water and sewage system was already in danger of breakdown due to
on going restrictions of goods into the Gaza Strip. There are severe
shortages of spare parts, and other materials necessary for repairs and
preventive maintenance. The importation of these has been repeatedly
denied access since June 2007.

In March last year the massive Beit Lahia sewage lake burst its banks,
drowning five in sewage and sand and swamping the surrounding village.
The management of the sewage lake is dependent upon functioning pumps.

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