Monday, January 5, 2009

Gaza update: food, water

From the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report on Gaza humanitarian situation as of Jan 4, 5 pm. (Thanks Muna)

UNRWA food distribution was cancelled today due to Israeli military activity, except in southern Gaza where the situation is calmer. UNRWA reports that it is facing significant difficulties obtaining food for their emergency distributions since most bakeries are closed and movement is too dangerous. WFP was able to distribute bread to 13 hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip today. CHF, one of WFP’s main implementing partners, distributed food yesterday in North Gaza but have not been able to distribute today in Khan Yunis due to security reasons and movement restrictions. Due to the lack of cooking gas in Gaza, 23 bakeries are no longer operating. The number of operational bakeries is down to 10. The remaining 14 are partially operating, depending on the availability of electricity.

According to CMWU, Gaza’s water utility, approximately 70% of the Gaza Strip population has no access to water, in particular Gaza City and northern Gaza due to the electricity cuts and lack of fuel for back-up generators. CMWU fears that continued shelling near the Beit Lahiya waste water treatment plant may hit the west side of the sewage lagoon which contains 3 million cubic metres of waste water. If this happens, a large part of Beit Lahiya will be flooded by sewage. UNRWA has donated 75,000 liters of fuel to CMWU, though only 35,000 liters has so far been distributed due to the fear of moving fuel tanks in the current security situation. The situation remains critical: in northern Gaza, for example, the water and sewage networks have enough fuel to continue operations for 2-3 days only.

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