JERUSALEM – The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned Tuesday of an imminent “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, where power plants are just 10 days from running out of fuel.
The electricity crisis is bringing Gaza to the brink of disaster, OCHA said in a statement.
“Hospitals have already begun to close. Without funding, more service providers will be forced to suspend operations over the coming weeks, and the situation will deteriorate dramatically, with potential impacts on the entire population. We cannot allow this to happen,” said the OCHA coordinator for the occupied territories, Roberto Valent.
OCHA ensures the delivery of fuel to keep reserve generators and vehicles running “to ensure that a minimum level of life-saving health, water and sanitation services are maintained in the midst of the dire electricity shortage facing the blockaded strip,” he said.
The more than 2 million people who live in Gaza – half of them women and children – currently have electricity for no more than eight hours a day, OCHA said, estimating that $6.5 million is needed to provide “the bare minimum (of fuel) needed to stave off a collapse of services.”
Three hospitals and 16 clinics in Gaza have already ceased operating due to the lack of electricity, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Besides the impact on healthcare, the electricity shortage is threatening the operation of water-treatment facilities, Gaza’s 48 desalination plants and garbage collection, the OCHA said.
Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, blames the power crisis on the Palestine National Authority, which in turn criticizes the Islamist group for being unwilling to hand over control of the territory as part of a now-stalled reconciliation process.