Gaza on brink of a humanitarian catastrophe because of fuel crisis, warns UN expert

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Richard Falk

A power outage has left 1.7 million residents of Gaza in a dire situation, according to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Richard Falk says the situation in Gaza is at a point of near catastrophe, and is calling for urgent action to address it.

The fuel shortage and power cuts have undermined an already precarious infrastructure, severely disrupting the provision of basic services, including health, water and sanitation, he warns.

Around 3,000 residents, including children, living in or near the Gazan neighbourhood of Az Zeitoun have been wading through raw sewage on the streets, after the largest sewage treatment facility in the area overflowed due to a power failure.

Mr. Falk stresses that other sewage treatment stations may soon also run out of petrol to fuel generators and result in more sewage overflowing onto the streets of Gaza.

Medical experts have warned of the serious risk of disease, and even an epidemic.

Egypt's ongoing crackdown on the vast network of tunnels and fuel tanks near the southern border of Gaza may have been the trigger for this latest crisis, the human rights expert believes.

Under these conditions of humanitarian emergency, the Special Rapporteur insists "the international community has a responsibility to take special measures to protect Gazans from the impending tragedy".

Falk also says Israel has to "exercise its core responsibility as an Occupying Power to protect the civilian population" and reiterates a call on the country to "end its illegal blockade" of Gaza.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.


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