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The situation has worsened since the Israeli bombardment damaged the power supply, affecting the operation of desalination and wastewater treatment plants.
According to a report by Environment and Health and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, the water situation in the Gaza Strip is critical and has worsened due to the Israeli assaults. As a result, many people have no access to clean water and have to rely on polluted, saline water or wait in long lines for water trucks.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), Gaza is facing a severe food shortage, with only enough supplies for five more days. The WFP has been providing food assistance to some of the most vulnerable people, but the demand is much higher than the supply. For every person who has benefited from the WFP's aid, there are at least six others who are still in need.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that each person should have at least 50 to 100 litres of water per day for drinking and hygiene purposes, but the average daily water consumption in Gaza is only three litres. This poses serious health risks and violates the human right to water. According to the WHO, the health system in Gaza is collapsing under the relentless attacks and the shortage of supplies. Women are forced to deliver their babies in unsafe conditions, without access to health facilities that can provide a clean environment.
The WHO has reported at least 22,500 cases of acute respiratory infections and 12,000 cases of diarrhea, which can be fatal in children suffering from dehydration and lack of food. Doctors have resorted to using vinegar as disinfectants – and screws and sewing needles for surgeries.
The mortality rate of mothers and newborns has increased due to the lack of critical care. UNRWA shelters are overcrowded and have reported cases of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and chickenpox.
With facilities exceeding capacity, people are now living on the streets, the situation of the health sector in Gaza is critical. The main power generators at al-Shifa Hospital have been shut down since November 3.
Israeli airstrikes have not spared hospitals and their surroundings, where many people, including patients, health workers and civilians escaping the violence, have required refuge. This has affected the lives of about 1.5 million people who have been forced to leave their homes, and who are facing increasing hardships due to the shortage of basic necessities.