Water crisis poses catastrophic threat to life in Gaza conflict

Aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in the City of Gaza – Credit Yahya Hassouna/Getty Images.

Before recent conflict sparked in the region, the humanitarian situation for people living in Gaza was already dire. Since 2007, Gaza has been under land, air, and sea blockade, limiting the movement of people and goods. As such, even before these attacks, 8 out of 10 people were reliant on international aid. 

In recent days the Israel government has launched hundreds of military air strikes across the Gaza Strip as a form of retaliation to attacks by Hamas. The UN reports that Gaza’s entire population has since been deprived of electricity, water, fuel supplies, food, and medicine.  

The immediate fear is that Gaza will soon run out of drinkable water, posing an immediate and catastrophic threat to life. It is feared that a lack of clean water will also impact sanitation, compounding an existing health crisis caused by the mass evacuation and bombing of hospitals in the North. Remaining hospitals in the South are struggling with dwindling supplies and overcrowding as they attempt to treat those with existing conditions as well as those injured by the air strikes. 

As a result of this recent conflict escalation an estimated 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza with immediate food, shelter, health, and psychosocial needs.  

Humanitarian aid access has been blocked to date, but once access is granted humanitarian aid agencies will be supporting tens of thousands of people who have been in need for days.    

Caritas Australia is supporting partner agencies on the ground to provide emergency shelter, food and other essentials, as well as psychosocial support. The efforts of these partner agencies are expected to support 17,000 displaced families, representing around 100,000 of the 1 million people displaced.  

Anton Asfar, Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem said, “We are calling the international community to urge political leaders to pressure the conflicting parties to cease fire immediately and allow a safe humanitarian assistance corridor”. 

We call upon our friends and good-hearted people to join us in giving a hand, a glimpse of hope, and putting love into action to our vulnerable community by supporting our efforts in providing basic humanitarian needs.”