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The crisis in Gaza is quickly spiraling out of control with water supplies critically low and a public health crisis imminent, Oxfam warned today. The collapse of the latest brief ceasefire means many more lives will be at risk.
Conditions are increasingly desperate in overcrowded schools and buildings where up to 450,000 people are sheltering. Many people are getting less than a gallon of safe water a day, far below international emergency standards. Massive destruction of water and sewage systems and electricity supplies has reduced the water supply to Gaza's entire population of 1.8 million people. Spills of raw sewage threaten to contaminate water sources and the possibility of disease is rising. There are already reports of 30 cases of meningitis, as well as skin diseases among children and cases of gastroenteritis.
Oxfam teams and local partners are working around the clock to supply water to 70,000 people, but the massive destruction of infrastructure and the ongoing Israeli bombardment means aid workers are increasingly overwhelmed and struggling to meet even basic needs.
The destruction of Gaza's only power plant earlier this week plunged much of Gaza into darkness and left vital water pumps with insufficient power. Three of Gaza's four main power plants have now been completely destroyed or extensively damaged by the violence of the past few weeks, cutting off more than 80 percent of Gaza's power.
"The situation is getting worse by the hour. Tens of thousands of families have fled but are trapped with nowhere safe to escape, sheltering in horrific conditions and terrified to move.," said Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.
Hospitals that Oxfam works with are struggling to cope. Six of the nine busiest hospitals in Gaza have been directly hit or badly damaged, with three of them now closed. Another four Oxfam-supported health clinics and many others have been damaged or shut. Many health facilities are running short of fuel to keep life-saving operations going.
Oxfam said the international community must do much more to ensure an urgent and permanent ceasefire.