03/22/2018, 18.08
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World Water Day: EU to build plant in Gaza where 97 per cent of the water is polluted

In Gaza, 80 per cent of children under three years suffer from diarrhoea. Various countries and agencies discussed plans in Brussels. Israel promised not to hinder the project, which will cost around 563 million euros. For Israeli NGO, the plan is welcome, but not enough. Israel’s blockade must stop.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The European Union hosted a conference in Brussels on Tuesday dedicated to Gaza’s water situation. In the Palestinian territory, most water is polluted.

The meeting successfully got support for €456 million (US$ 560 million) to build a new desalination plant in the Palestinian territory.

A study released today notes that 97 per cent of water in the Gaza Strip is polluted, falling far short of the standards set by the World Health Organisation. In Israel, a government source said that 95 per cent of Gaza water supplies are not potable.

For several weeks, raw sewage has been pouring into the Mediterranean Sea, worsening the local health situation.

According to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, about 80 per cent of all children under three in Gaza suffer from diarrhoea.

This is why a group of countries and agencies want to invest half a billion euros to build a new desalination plant at an estimated cost of almost €563 million, of which €77.1 million from the EU alone with the rest coming from agencies and other countries, including Turkey.

The project will include the construction of a large desalination facility and the refurbishment of the necessary pipelines and water storage as well as solar energy for the plant.

Israel has backed the initiative, sending two representatives to the conference to convey Israel’s commitment not to create any problems for the project and to allow the necessary equipment and materials into the Strip.

AsiaNews spoke to an Israeli NGO, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, for their thoughts about the initiative. The group operates a mobile clinic in the Gaza Strip.

"Every initiative to build infrastructure in Gaza is welcome,” it said, “but we must remember that this is only one of a long list of steps needed to resolve the acute humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza harms the health and quality of life of its residents.

In fact, “The right to water is one of many social determinates that define health, and therefore the new desalinization plant is not enough, but must be accompanied by an immediate and complete end to the Israeli blockade” to ensure “the proper movement of patients, medical teams, medical equipment and medicines to and from Gaza.”

This also calls for the “full commitment from the international community to rehab Gaza."

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