The Ministry of Local Government in the besieged Gaza Strip has warned of a health catastrophe if the current shortage of fuel is allowed to continue. Aside from the lack of fuel for hospital generators and ambulances, said Minister Mohamed Al-Farra, the vehicles used to transport domestic and business rubbish to dumps outside Gaza City are running out of diesel.
"The accumulation of rubbish on the streets of Gaza and in emergency dumps within residential areas ushers in a health disaster," said Al-Farra. "The threat to the population from rising numbers of vermin, stray dogs and waste-borne diseases is very real."
The minister blamed the Israeli occupation for only allowing a limited amount of fuel into the besieged Strip, as well as the Egyptian government which has blocked a huge amount of fuel on the Karm abu-Salem Border Crossing donated by Qatar.
The fuel shortage has also affected sewage treatment works, so there is now a huge volume of untreated sewage flowing straight into the Mediterranean Sea. The siege means that spare parts are not available and damage to pipes has led to flooding and blockages damaging homes and schools, and roads have become impassable.
Minister Al-Farra called on Israel to lift the siege and for Egypt to allow the entry of Qatari fuel blocked at the border. Around 150,000 litres of diesel fuel and gasoline are needed every month just to operate the rubbish clearance vehicles.
The Miles of Smiles 23 aid convoy, headed by Dr Essam Mustafa, took a number of street cleansing vehicles into Gaza last week but the lack of fuel means that they are unable to get to work and help to clear the backlog of rubbish that is building up.