Israel and Hamas at war | In Rafah, garbage accumulates and threatens the health of displaced people

(Rafah) A sanitation system in agony, garbage piling up on the side of the roads: in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, “miserable” hygiene conditions add to the despair of the war.

“We suffer from nauseating odors (…), the sewers are infested with mosquitoes which bite people and transmit infections,” says Sayed Rafic abu Shanab, who lives in this town in the south of the Palestinian territory where hundreds of thousands of Gazans gather. are refugees after fleeing the fighting.

According to the UN, the extreme deterioration of health conditions makes the population even more vulnerable after more than five months of war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

“Sanitation is one of the central reasons for the nutrition crisis, the health crisis and, I would say, food insecurity,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations, told reporters on Monday. Palestinian territories.

“People are hungry, but they are even hungrier because their immune systems are weakened by their living conditions. People live in miserable conditions, marked by overcrowding,” he added.

The Gaza Strip is plunged into a major humanitarian crisis. One in two inhabitants is experiencing a “catastrophic” food situation, particularly in the north where famine will rage by May in the absence of “urgent” measures, specialized UN agencies warned on Monday.

In Rafah, where some 1.5 million civilians are crowded together, according to the UN, compared to a population of 200 to 300,000 people before the war, used diapers and empty tin cans pile up along the roadsides, covered with flies. .

“There is no waste collection,” says Jamie McGoldrick. “In the camps, on the roads, papers, plastic, canned goods, leftover food accumulate,” he adds.

Explosion of infectious diseases

These unsanitary conditions have led to a surge in infectious diseases like hepatitis A.

“The inhumane living conditions – almost no drinking water, no clean toilets or ability to keep surrounding areas clean – will allow hepatitis A to spread even further and highlight how dangerous and dangerous the environment is. explosive for infectious diseases, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had already warned in January on the social network

Displaced from the north of the Gaza Strip, Hassan Moustafa told AFP how the worsening living conditions were becoming unbearable for the residents of the tent camp where he took refuge.

“This suffering lasts day after day, we lack water and food. We hope to return to our previous lives as quickly as possible,” he sighs.

But without an end to the fighting, humanitarian organizations won’t really be able to improve things, warns Jamie McGoldrick.

“With power plants not working, a water and sanitation system out of service or in need of repair, we cannot improve things,” he laments.

The war in the Gaza Strip was triggered by the bloody attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 in Israel, which resulted in the death of 1,160 people, mainly civilians, according to a report established by AFP based on data official.

The Israeli military operation launched in retaliation left more than 31,700 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian Islamist movement’s Ministry of Health.


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