Gaza: risk of disease as huge mounds of rotting trash pile up 

Gaza: risk of disease as huge mounds of rotting trash pile up 

Under the beating sun, mountains of trash are piling up near displacement camps in central Gaza. As the trash rots away, fears are rising about the further spread of disease, Reports Reuters

On the 25th of July, Louise Wateridge, an aid worker with the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA), said that a pile of waste weighing an estimated 100,000 tonnes was building up near people’s tents close to where displaced people are sheltering in Gaza. 

Wateridge arrived back in Gaza on July 20th, after a four-week absence stating that the situation had deteriorated significantly. She described the living conditions as “unbearable” with people sweltering under plastic sheets and cowering in bombed-out buildings.

“It’s among the population and it’s building up without anywhere to go. It just keeps getting worse. And with the temperatures rising, it’s really adding misery to the living conditions here,” she told journalists via video link from Gaza.

Entering month 8 of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of Gazans fled to southern Gaza searching for protection in the ongoing war. They were uprooted again since Israel expanded its military operations against Hamas to the southern city of Rafah in early May. 

READ: Gaza: 17 killed as Rafah invasion deepens 

Constantly on the move, any refuge that the vulnerable Gazans found is now at risk as the piles of trash threaten their health. 

The World Health Organization’s Tarik Jašarević said the trash, along with the rising heat, and a lack of clean drinking water and sanitation services, was adding to disease risks.

“It can lead to a number of communicable diseases appearing,” he said, mentioning that around 470,000 cases of diarrhoea have been reported since the start of the war.

Repeated requests to allow UNRWA to empty the main landfill sites have been refused by Israel, Wateridge said, meaning temporary ones are emerging, she added.

Even if permission is granted, Wateridge said UNRWA’s humanitarian missions such as trash collection have all but halted due to Israeli refusals to allow fuel imports.

Israel’s COGAT, a branch of the military tasked with coordinating aid deliveries into Palestinian territories, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israel, which launched its Gaza military operation after deadly Hamas attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7, says it has expanded efforts to facilitate aid flows into Gaza and blames aid agencies for distribution problems inside the enclave. It controls fuel shipments into Gaza and has long maintained that there is a risk they are diverted to Hamas.

Hope begins to deteriorate among Gazans, with nowhere to go and surrounded by rotting trash there is no answer in sight unless a ceasefire deal is reached. 



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