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UN calls on Israel to urgently allow fuel to Gaza to avoid closure of hospitals

A Palestinian man receives medical care at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on 16 April 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
A man receives medical care on 16 April 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick yesterday called on the Israeli authorities to immediately allow the entry of UN-purchased emergency fuel into the Gaza Strip in order to avoid the closure of hospitals and raw sewage overflowing onto the streets.

“Restricting the entry of emergency fuel to Gaza is a dangerous practice, with grave consequences on the rights of people in Gaza,” UN OCHA reported McGoldrick saying.

“The well-being of two million people, half of whom are children, is at stake,” he added.

It is unacceptable that Palestinians in Gaza are repeatedly deprived of the most basic elements of a dignified life.

UN OCHA said that health, water and sanitation partners indicate that at least 60,000 litres of emergency fuel should be delivered immediately to some 46 critical facilities across Gaza in order to ensure the basic functioning of the main hospitals and essential water and sanitation services for the coming four days.

The fuel, OCHA added, which is available and awaiting entry by the Israeli authorities, is needed to power back-up generators required as a result of Gaza’s chronic energy crisis.

At around 40 out of 132 water and sanitation facilities, OCHA went on, fuel stocks are currently enough for only 1-2 days. Some 1.2 million Palestinians are at imminent risk of possible sewage overflow around the 41 main sewage pumping stations in the Strip.

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Hospitals and other critical health services are reducing operations, with five hospitals facing possible closure in the coming three days, if emergency fuel is not allowed in.

According to OCHA, at highest risk, currently, are over 2,000 patients in Gaza’s hospitals, who rely on electrical devices. Medical services for over 1.6 million other Palestinians may suffer from the lack of emergency fuel at the 54 main health facilities.

Compounding the situation, funding for emergency fuel will run out for all critical facilities in mid- August, with $4.5 million required to ensure that a minimum level of essential services can continue to run through the end of the year.

“Gaza desperately needs longer-term solutions so we can move past this cycle of repeated or worsening crises, including that Palestinian authorities prioritise provision of fuel for essential services,” said McGoldrick.

“Until that happens, Israel must reverse the recent restrictions, including on the entry of emergency fuel, and donors must step in and fund emergency fuel, in order to avoid a disease outbreak or other major public health concern,” he concluded.

International OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUN
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