UN said to warn Gaza health, sanitation services on verge of collapse
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UN said to warn Gaza health, sanitation services on verge of collapse

Mideast envoy reportedly pleads for emergency donations as funds for fuel to power electricity generators run out

Illustrative: An employee of the Palestinian health ministry checks the Beit Hanun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018, when it ran out of fuel. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP)
Illustrative: An employee of the Palestinian health ministry checks the Beit Hanun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018, when it ran out of fuel. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP)

The United Nations has warned that essential services in the Gaza Strip will collapse within a week if money is not secured to purchase generator fuel, Walla news reported Saturday.

UN officials said that without money for fuel, hospitals will be forced to close and sewage treatment services in the Strip will shut down completely, Walla said.

UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov has reportedly appealed to some 20 donor countries to quickly contribute $4.5 million for the fuel needed to keep the health and sanitation services in Gaza running.

On Friday the US announced that it would no longer make any contributions to the main aid organization in Gaza , the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The Trump administration decision cuts nearly $300 million of planned US support for UNRWA this year alone.

A picture taken on June 1, 2018 shows a girl running past hovels near a sewage water pool in an impoverished neighborhood in Gaza City. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

The Trump administration castigated UNRWA for failed practices, and indicated that it rejected the criteria by which UNRWA defines Palestinian refugees, whereby the UN agency confers refugee status not only on original refugees but on their millions of descendants.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, attends a press conference at the (UNSCO) offices in Gaza City, September 25, 2017. (Adel Hana/AP)

The State Department said in a statement that the US would look for other ways to aid the Palestinians.

The European Union on Saturday urged the US to reconsider its “regrettable” decision, and vowed to continue funding UNRWA.

The EU said it was working with regional partners discuss “how to ensure sustainable, continued, and effective assistance to the Palestinians, including through UNRWA, at this difficult juncture.”

Friday’s announcement drew harsh censure from Palestinians, who accused the Trump administration of trying to undermine the peace negotiations.

A Palestinian woman rides in a car after collecting aid provided by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNWRA, in Gaza City on January 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

Israel meanwhile, had signaled its support for the move.

“Israel supports the move because UNWRA is one of the main problems perpetuating the conflict,” Hadashot news quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as saying on Friday evening. The PMO reiterated its support for the US decision on Saturday evening.

Gaza faces a lack of electricity, drinkable water, and food. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip which they say is designed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build fortifications or cross-border tunnels.

Gaza’s woes have been exacerbated by an ongoing dispute between Hamas and the PA, which has cut the salaries it pays to workers in Gaza and imposed various sanctions, including cutting of payments for electricity supplies to the enclave.

Israel has also said the humanitarian situation will not improve until Hamas returns the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the two civilians captives it holds. It blames Hamas for the dire situation, charging the terror group with diverting millions in aid to purchase weapons, dig tunnels, manufacture rockets, and train its military wing, instead of using it for the welfare of the people.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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