UNICEF aid for Gaza arriving, despite challenges
GENEVA, 15 January 2009 - The humanitarian operation in Gaza has been dealt a blow by the strike today that devastated warehouses in the United Nations compound and destroyed essential emergency goods and products.
Six airplanes with additional UNICEF medical kits and water supplies have now arrived in the area and are being moved into Gaza. Emergency health provisions, obstetric surgical kits with drugs, as well as high energy biscuits and therapeutic food for children are in the supply pipeline and will be delivered as soon as conditions permit.
UNICEF is also concerned about the risk of epidemic outbreaks in Gaza due to the lack of safe water and sanitation. Children, especially those under five, are vulnerable to the spread of water-related diseases, such as diarrhea and cholera.
Over recent days, UNICEF has worked with its partners to distribute more than 66,000 bottles of water, and emergency water and sanitation supplies for some 30,000 people.
According to reports, 500,000 Gazans have no access to safe running water as a result of damaged water and sewage systems. An additional 500,000 people only have intermittent access to safe water. Sewage is flowing on the streets and uncollected rubbish is piling up due to the insecurity.
UNICEF also continues to provide essential nutritional supplements of vitamin A and D and iron folate, sufficient to meet the needs of 45,000 infants and children under five, to Ministry of Health and UN clinics. UNICEF is also supporting two therapeutic feeding centres for malnourished children in Gaza.
While the start of school has been postponed to February UNICEF is now preparing to furnish schools with replacement materials following the significant damage to school infrastructure and equipment that has occurred as result of the conflict.