The lack of drinking water is causing an outbreak of diarrhea in the Gaza Strip, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The survey shows that the outbreak has already affected 33,551 people in the territory since mid-October — half of these people, says the WHO, are children.
The rate is well above the average recorded in the Gaza Strip in 2021 and 2022, of around 2,000 cases per month – already considered high by the organization.
“Fuel shortages have led to the closure of desalination plants, significantly increasing the risk of bacterial infections such as diarrhea,” the WHO said.
The survey also cites 8,944 cases of scabies and lice, 1,005 cases of chickenpox, 12,635 cases of rash and 54,866 cases of upper respiratory infections since mid-October in the territory.
100% of the population hungry
“Before October 7, 33% of the population suffered from food insecurity,” said Kyung-nan Park, emergencies director at the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). “We can safely say that 100% are food insecure right now.”
She said WFP needs $112 million to be able to reach 1.1 million people in Gaza over the next 90 days. “They face the risk of malnutrition,” she said.
In addition to funding, WFP also needs regular entry into Gaza and safe access once inside to be able to reach people in need, she added.
Since the reopening of the Rafah crossing on Gaza’s border with Egypt for humanitarian cargo on October 21, the average daily number of trucks crossing into Gaza has been less than 19% of what it was before the conflict, according to the UN humanitarian office.
“Right now we have 40 to 50 trucks in action,” Kyung-nan said. “For WFP food assistance alone, we would need 100 trucks per day to be able to provide any significant humanitarian food to the population of Gaza.”
Kyung-nan said that WFP staff in Gaza themselves did not have enough to eat. The program used to work with more than 23 bakeries in the densely populated enclave, but only one is still operating due to a lack of fuel and supplies.
“There are stories of people who go there, wait in line for ten days and leave empty-handed,” she said. “It’s very serious.”