The Palestinian Minister of Health in Gaza, Dr Mufid Al-Mukhalalati, has warned that frequent power outages could result in a humanitarian catastrophe claiming the lives of Palestinian patients in Gaza. Mukhalalati announced during a press conference from the Shifa hospital that at least 500 dialysis patients are currently endangered because of the electricity shortages.
Mukhalalati explained that: "the electricity operates for eight hours per day and the generators that compensate for the electrical outages throughout the remainder of the day have become too costly to run, requiring 500 thousand litres per month of diesel fuel to operate. They are also unsafe to use around patients." He added that "most medical devices will soon stop working" when the generators stop.
Mukhalalati asked why the world remains silent about the situation in Gaza, especially the European Union, the United Nations, international human rights organisations and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. He called upon all people of the world with good conscience to bear their responsibilities towards Gaza and promptly move to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe from happening.
The patients themselves are holding Egypt responsible for stopping the necessary fuel supply from entering into the Gaza Strip, undermining their health and even threatening their lives. They are imploring the Egyptian authorities to exclude the health sector and ordinary people from its political considerations.
In a press release issued on 1 November, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called for urgent action to address the power crisis currently affecting 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza. An earlier report issued by the office revealed that since February 2012, the Gaza Power Plant had been operating at one-third of its operational capacity as a result of severe fuel shortages. However it has now completely shut down, triggering scheduled blackouts for six to 18 hours each day, in addition to random unscheduled cuts.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad