ARAB AND WORLD

Wed 20 Dec 2023 9:11 pm - Jerusalem Time

UNICEF: Gazan children are deprived of 90 percent of their natural water consumption

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned on Wednesday that Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip do not receive 90 percent of their normal water consumption.


“Gaza’s water and sanitation services are on the verge of collapse, while a large-scale disease outbreak looms,” UNICEF said in a statement.


According to UNICEF estimates, newly displaced children in the southern Gaza Strip receive only 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day, far below the recommended requirements for survival.


She stressed that according to humanitarian relief standards, the minimum amount of water needed in emergency situations is 15 liters, including drinking, washing and cooking water, and the estimated minimum for survival is only 3 liters per day.


It stated that hundreds of thousands of displaced people, half of whom are estimated to be children, have arrived in the city of Rafah (south) since early December, and are in “urgent need of food, water, shelter, medicine, and protection.”


It explained that as demand continues to rise, the city's water and sanitation systems are in a very critical state, and that the resumption of hostilities coupled with the lack of electricity supply, fuel shortages, restricted access and infrastructure damage means that at least 50 percent of water and sanitation facilities have been damaged or destroyed.


It stressed that the impact on children is particularly tragic because children are also more vulnerable to dehydration, diarrhea, diseases and malnutrition, all of which can escalate to pose a threat to their survival.


It added: “Concerns about waterborne diseases such as cholera and chronic diarrhea are particularly heightened due to the shortage of potable water, especially after the rains and floods this week.”


“Officials have already recorded about 20 times the monthly average of reported cases of diarrhea among children under the age of five, in addition to increases in cases of scabies, lice, chickenpox, skin rashes, and more than 160,000 cases of acute respiratory infections,” the statement said.


“Access to adequate amounts of clean water is a matter of life and death, and children in Gaza barely have a drop to drink,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.


It continued: "Children and their families are forced to use water from unsafe sources that are highly salty or polluted. Without safe drinking water, a greater number of children will die due to deprivation and disease in the coming days."


In shelters across the Strip, long lines of exhausted women and children wait to use one toilet for every 700 people on average, prompting people to resort to other coping strategies, such as using buckets or defecating in the open, according to the UN organization.


The statement added: “Bathing places have also become less available, which has led to hygiene options being reduced to almost non-existent, which particularly affects women and girls. This could lead to an increase in the spread of the disease.”

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UNICEF: Gazan children are deprived of 90 percent of their natural water consumption

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