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Gaza faces environmental emergency with over 270,000 tonnes of uncollected waste - UNRWA

Gaza faces environmental emergency with over 270,000 tonnes of uncollected waste - UNRWA
24 Apr 2024 08:33


A staggering 270,000 tonnes of solid waste remain uncollected across the Gaza Strip, posing significant health risks, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Tuesday.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has severely impacted essential services, with the destruction of waste management installations and medical waste disposal centres limiting solid waste collection and disposal capabilities, UNRWA said in its latest update. Despite successfully collecting 10,000 tonnes of waste in January and February, UNRWA warned that waste is piling up quickly, with over 270,000 tonnes waiting to be collected.

The situation is further exacerbated by restricted aid access, especially to northern Gaza. From April 1 to 19, approximately 15% of aid missions intended for northern Gaza and certain southern areas were either denied or impeded by Israeli authorities. The last successful delivery of food supplies by UNRWA to the region occurred on January 23. 

The volume of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza remains critically low, UNRWA added, with an average of 186 aid trucks crossing daily through the Karem Abu Salem and Rafah land crossings since the beginning of April. This number falls well below the operational capacity of these crossings and the minimum target of 500 trucks per day set by aid organisations, the UN relief agency said.

Healthcare in Gaza has also come under unprecedented attack, with the World Health Organisation and Save the Children reporting that the rate of attacks on healthcare facilities or personnel in Gaza is higher than any other recent global conflict. Over the last six months, there have been at least 435 attacks, averaging 73 attacks per month since the conflict escalated on October 7.

The humanitarian toll is reflected in the displacement figures, with up to 1.7 million people - over 75% of Gaza's population - displaced, many of them multiple times. Intense bombardments and ongoing fighting in areas like Khan Younis and the Middle Area have forced significant numbers of displaced people to move further south. This includes about 1 million people residing near or in emergency and informal shelters. 

As of October 12, around 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were recorded in UNRWA shelters in Northern Gaza and Gaza City governorates. Ongoing hostilities, evacuation orders by the Israeli Security Forces (ISF), and the constant search for safer locations continue to disrupt liv es and hinder the ability of UNRWA and other agencies to provide adequate humanitarian support.

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