Thursday, January 15, 2009

Islamic Relief Aid Worker's Diary in Gaza: Part 15

Food parcel sent by Islamic Relief to displaced families
(Pix courtesy of Islamic Relief Worldwide)

In the 15th instalment of his diary, 13 January, Br.Hatem Shurrab says a water shortage is adding to people's suffering across the Gaza Strip.

GAZA: 13 January

The water situation in Gaza is dire. Those people who are lucky enough to have any water in their storage tanks are trying to save as much as possible. Many people have had their tanks destroyed by the bombing and shooting.

Most homes in Rafah, Khan Younis and in the middle and northern areas of Gaza have almost no water or electricity. Eighty per cent of people in Gaza are dependent on international aid. Most Gazans can't afford to buy water.

Only today my colleague, Diya Skaik, returned to his home which he was forced to leave 10 days ago due to the intensive bombing.

"The water tank which is the only source of water for my small family is crushed," he told me.

"I went to the roof and just had a glance. I had to leave the place quickly as it is too dangerous to be there."

A few months ago my father had a feeling something awful might happen in Gaza and bought a larger water tank.

We are very much aware that Gaza will need long-term help from the outside world to rebuild the devastated infrastructure.

However, the water that we have is almost finished. This is despite the fact that we have cut our usage down to the bare minimum. I know my father is concerned about our limited supply, even though he doesn't talk about it.

The water shortage in Gaza is causing health and environmental problems.

Only a few months ago Islamic Relief provided Gaza's main water pump station with spare parts. The system is old and in need of repair and was already feeling the strain during the siege of the past 18 months.

Today we provided eight shelters in Gaza with drinking water for the many hundreds of people who have been displaced by the bombing. Many of the shelters are overcrowded and have no access to clean water. We provided each person with 20 litres.

No doubt, after the fighting is over, we are going to see vast amounts of damage to houses and the water tanks on the roofs.

As an aid worker I am focused on coping with the here and now but like everybody in Gaza I am waiting and praying for a ceasefire so we can try to rebuild our lives.

Right now our aid team is reacting to what is happening around us.

However, we are very much aware that Gaza will need long-term help from the outside world to rebuild the devastated infrastructure.

It will take the people of Gaza even longer to heal from the physical and psychological damage of this war.
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