After five months of conflict, malnutrition hits Gaza hard

RS367659_Desalination units in use_lpr
People displaced by conflict in Gaza access water in Rafah from a water treatment system installed by the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility and Palestinian Environmental Friends Association with support from Oxfam. The project is establishing six solar-powered desalination units at key sites. The goal is to deliver a minimum of three liters (0.8 gallons) of water per day to 25,600 people. Alef Multimedia/Oxfam

Oxfam is working with partners to install water desalination systems in wells in southern Gaza, and continues to advocate for a ceasefire, return of hostages, and humanitarian access.

Intense hunger and severe risk of famine continues in the Gaza Strip, where conflict is entering a fifth month. Lack of food and limited access by aid groups to the approximately 300,000 civilians in northern Gaza means more and more people are malnourished, particularly children, according to Dr. Umaiyeh Khammash, head of Juzoor for Health and Social Development that works with Oxfam.

In a statement by Juzoor and Oxfam released in late February, Dr. Khammash said that 13 percent of children examined in shelters in northern Gaza were acutely malnourished. Among them, three percent were suffering from severe wasting, a condition of low weight per height due to recent weight loss.

The prospects for relieving severe malnutrition in Gaza rests with humanitarian assistance, as the agricultural and fishing industries have been seriously damaged by the total siege on Gaza, according to Hani Al Ramlawi, director of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee.

“The landscape is complete destruction. The farmers, the people, the animals have nothing. The minimum requirements to stay alive do not exist in north Gaza,” Al Ramlawi says. “This crisis will lead to the overall collapse of Gaza’s agriculture for many years to come.”

What Oxfam’s partners are doing to help people in Gaza

There are more than 2 million people in Gaza suffering from lack of food, water, medical care, and proper sanitation. Many of them have fled their homes and are seeking shelter in overcrowded areas in the southern Gaza areas of Khan Younis and Rafah.

To help overcome the lack of water, sanitation systems, and poor hygiene that can lead to outbreaks of water-borne diseases, Oxfam is working closely with the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility and Palestinian Environmental Friends Association to provide:

  • 6 wells with water treatment units to make the salty ground water drinkable for families; our goal is to deliver a minimum of 3 liters (0.8 gallons) per day to a population of 25,600
  • Water storage bladders
  • Trucking in water to 7,500 people in five areas
  • Water storage containers for families
  • 200 toilets
  • 128 handwashing stations
  • 67 showers with lighting and door-locking systems and grab rails to provide security and support.

Advocating for a ceasefire

Oxfam is joining with humanitarian groups in Palestine and Israel and around the world to urge all parties to the conflict in Gaza to establish an immediate ceasefire, release all hostages, and allow full humanitarian access to the population in Gaza.

Oxfam America is also asking the U.S. government to use its influence for peace in Gaza. “The Biden administration can and must do more to stop this crisis from spiraling into even further catastrophe,” says Oxfam America’s President and CEO Abby Maxman. “We need a permanent ceasefire, a return of all hostages, safe humanitarian access -- and for the U.S. to stop sending deadly arms that further fuel this violence."

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