Humanitarian crisis in Gaza: no clean drinking water

Palestinian ambassador to Rome launches aid campaign

27 December, 16:18

    (by Elisa Pinna) (ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 27 - The Palestinian ambassador to Rome launched a campaign Friday to raise funds through movements, associations and private citizens for the population of the Gaza Strip. Those living in Gaza are suffering direly not only under the Israeli embargo and the recent military escalation, but also due to the extremely poor weather conditions that have hit the area the harder than had been seen in 70 years. ''We are asking Italians to help prevent the latest in a long string of tragedies,'' Palestinian ambassador Mai Al-Kaila told journalists in outlining the initiative Una Coperta per Gaza ('A Blanket for Gaza'). While the photos and reports appearing in the media for Christmas focused mostly on a Jerusalem covered in snowed, another much less-than-idyllic reality was left in the shadows.

    In Gaza, the rain and snow of the past few days led to a breakdown of the precarious sewage system, flooding the streets of towns and villages and swamping homes, schools and infrastructure never repaired after the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead. Clean water was mixed with waste water, and now there is not a single tap for clean drinking water in the entire Gaza Strip, which 1.8 million Palestinians call home. The Palestinian ambassador noted that amid this situation, Israel has not only continued with its embargo that prohibits even the entrance into the territory of medicine, but also opened its dams, through which the Israeli State's waters are flushed out into the Mediterranean, contributing to the breakdown of the entire sewage treatment system and flooding Gaza with putrid mud. The situation is entirely out of control, the ambassador said, calling for ''international mobilization'' for the people living in the Gaza Strip, most of whom have been left without a roof over their heads,food, drinking water, and heating. ''Over half of the population in Gaza live in refugee camps,'' Mai Al-Kaila noted, ''in tents and makeshift shelters.'' The only electricity plant in the Gaza Strip is also on the verge of being shut down by a severe fuel shortage due to the crossing of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel.

    Electricity distribution will be cut further, to only six hours per day, with the possibility of it being halted entirely within a week at the most, she warned. Encouraging the Palestinian diplomatic office to launch the campaign, the ambassador said, ''were in part Pope Francis's words at Christmas and his appeal to share with the poor.

    ''You cannot just stand by and watch so much suffering,'' she said. This was the motivation to initiate a humanitarian aid campaign in collaboration with the Palestinian community in Italy and the friendship association with the Palestinian population. Una Coperta per Gaza aims to raise funds to deal with the severest emergencies and to sustain Gazan families, with a special focus on children. The donations (20 euros for a blanket) should be addressed to "Una Coperta per Gaza"/ Missione Diplomatica Palestinese/IBAN: IT 36 E 02008 05211 000021004086.(ANSAmed).

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