ACTNews, GAZA – The crises that happened in Palestine are caused by the prolonged conflict, and Gaza Strip as one of the territories in Palestine was worst affected by the crises that covers all aspects of life: social, economy and health. How severe are the crises in Palestine?
In the last decade, Gaza Strip has been experiencing critical power crisis. The situation worsened since April 2017 after a clash between two Palestinian factions in Gaza and the West Bank.
The electricity crisis was followed by fuel crisis, as diesel fuel is urgently needed to generate power through electrical generators. In 2017, according to the data by Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO), the electricity needed in Gaza strip was 460 megawatts with only 120 megawatts available. This means that the available electricity only covered 26.7 percent of the total need. Consequently, a number of medical facilities were forced to shut down.
Two years later, the condition still has not significantly improved. The data from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showed that, by February 2019, electricity is only available in Gaza for 11-12 hours a day. The electricity need in Gaza can reach up to 500 megawatts, while the only available electricity is only about 200 megawatts. This condition massively affects public facilities like hospitals and schools.
In 2019, at least five government hospitals are on the brink of shutdown because they have no adequate fuel supplies to continue running.
“This is not an easy problem. From our side, if a hospital stops working, we try to take the patients to another hospital, and this, of course, increases the fuel consumption in that other hospital. If they are moved, they will suffer in other hospitals away from their homes, but if they don’t move to other hospitals, they will suffer also,” explained Dr. Ashraf Abu Mhadi, Director General of International Cooperation of Palestinian National Ministry of Health to Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT).
In late January 2019, ACT distributed 10,000 liters of fuel funded by the donations from the people of Indonesia for eight hospitals in Gaza Strip.
“In 2018, as many as 260,000 people benefitted from the fuel aid sent by ACT. In January 2019, 100,000 liters of fuel have helped around 6,000 patients in Gazan hospitals affected by the fuel crisis,” reported Andi Noor Faradiba of Global Humanity Response (GHR) – ACT.
The fuel depletion also leads to water crisis in Gaza as water pumps and desalination plants are unable to run properly. The UN stated that only 10 percent of the total two million populations in Gaza have access to clean water.
Former Deputy Water Minister Rebhi Al-Sheikh stated that the water is prone to fecal and e.coli contamination because it virtually contains to salt. When it is a stored at the household water tank for many days more than 10 days, Al-Sheikh added, then this level of contamination can reach up to 70 percent.
“My children get sick because of the water. They suffer from vomiting, diarrhea. Often, I can tell the water is not clean, but we have no other option,” said Madlain Al-Najjar, a Gaza resident, to PBS in early January.
Abdul Rahim Abu from the Gaza Water Authority said the municipality can't afford to treat the water. “Eighty to 85 percent of people here don't pay their water bills because a majority of the people live in poverty. And the municipality doesn't have the ability to pay for fuel to keep the water pumps running,” said Abu.
Since 2015, ACT, on behalf of Indonesia, has distributed clean water for the Palestinians through the Mobile Water Tank Program. GHR – ACT stated that, by 2018, 1,008,800 have benefitted from this program.
The latest national socio-economic and food security survey by World Food Program found that 22.5 percent of the Palestinian population – 1.3 million people – to be food-insecure, 13 percent in the West Bank and 39 percent in the Gaza Strip.
In early February, Dr. Zaher al-Banna, head of the Central Council of Parents in UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip, stressed that students in Gaza often go to school without having breakfast owing to the deteriorating economic situation and the increase in the unemployment rate.
The food crisis that affects the children in Palestine also becomes a major attention for the people of Indonesia. Through ACT, the people of Indonesia have provided nutritious food for the people of Palestine in Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
“Every day, 500 prepared food packages were distributed to schools. On Saturday (2/9), 500 meal packages were delivered to Al-Horriya school in Gaza City. Insha Allah, the prepared meal packages distribution will continue,” added Faradiba.
The humanitarian crisis in Palestine has also led to the economic collapse. The economy in Gaza sharply decline due to the decade-long blockade.
“A combination of war, isolation, and internal division has left Gaza in a crippling economic state and exacerbated the human distress. A situation where people struggle to make ends meet, suffer from worsening poverty, rising unemployment and deteriorating public services such as health care, water and sanitation, calls for urgent, real and sustainable solutions,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.