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Gaza's deadly drinking water

Gaza's deadly drinking water
16-06-2012,00:18

Gaza Strip - Gaza's only fresh water source is now too dangerous to drink and is contaminated with fertiliser and human waste, according to a shocking new report from Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Save the Children.

On the fifth anniversary of the blockade, Gaza's Children; Falling Behind, reveals desperate families are being forced to buy from private sources, not knowing that in most cases this water too is contaminated, often at ten times the safe level.

With 1.7 million people - including more than 800,000 children - crammed into just 365 square kilometres - an area roughly equivalent to the size of the Isle of Wight.

"The blockade is a blight on the lives of Gaza's civilians. It is shocking to see so many children struggling to live a fulfilled and healthy life - unable to play in safe areas and forced to drink dirty and dangerous water that is making them sick," said Aimee Shalan, MAP's Director of Advocacy and Communications.

Since the blockade started, the number of children under three being treated for watery diarrhoea has doubled. High levels of nitrate - found in faeces and fertiliser - is also linked to some cancers and is a massive risk to pregnant women.

Gaza 's sewage system is also completely broken, much of it destroyed during the war on Gaza and treatment plants are overloaded or lack fuel. Open cesspits sit right next to family homes and in just the first two months of this year, three children drowned in open sewers.

Aimee Shalan continued: "There is now a whole generation of children in Gaza who have no idea what life is like beyond the blockade. Urgent action is needed to safeguard their health, now and for future. We must end the blockade and ensure that projects to provide clean, safe drinking water and sanitation are fully implemented."

There are only two crossings available for people to leave Gaza and people require select security permits to leave the heavily guarded exit. Crucial equipment needed to repair the sewage and water system remains blocked and on the restricted list of goods allowed in. Just one fifth of the equipment needed has been delivered to date, with the remainder sitting unused in warehouses.

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