RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that Gaza's access to safe supply of drinking water could cease at any time. The World Health Organization (WHO) says outbreaks of disease could be triggered as a consequence.
The warnings follow a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report Monday that "Gaza's underground water system is in danger of collapse after recent conflict compounded by years of overuse and contamination."
"An outbreak of Hepatitis A and parasitic infections could occur at any time," Mahmoed Daher from WHO in Gaza told IPS. "Already the number of people, especially children, suffering from diarrhea has risen dramatically."
"We have noticed an increase in people suffering from kidney diseases from water contaminated with toxins, as well as babies born with an unnatural blue tinge," Munther Shoblak from Gaza's Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) told IPS.
The UNEP report focuses on a rise in saltwater intrusion from the sea caused by over-extraction of ground water, and pollution from sewage and agricultural run-off, with toxic levels high enough to put infants at risk of nitrate poisoning.
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