IRC alarmed by severe deterioration of water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in Gaza

  • Some Palestinians are being forced to survive on 3% of the minimum daily water needs.
  • Lack of clean water and sanitation facilities have increased rates of hepatitis, diarrhea among children under five, and other water-borne and communicable diseases.
  • Israel’s military invasion of Rafah threatens to further deteriorate conditions in southern Gaza.
  • “Put simply, we are witnessing a catastrophic decline in living standards and health conditions every day,” says IRC country director for the Gaza crisis, Kiryn Lanning.
Read our May 22 statement.

Gaza briefing

In Gaza, more than 2 million Palestinian civilians are facing peril and disaster every day. The Secretary General of the UN calls this a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Following the work of IRC assessment teams on the ground, and commencement of aid flows from Egypt to Gaza, the IRC is initiating a response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the current conflict.

What are the main humanitarian challenges?

The escalating conflict in the Middle East on 7 October and since has created widespread death and destruction. Many thousands of children are now reported dead, hundreds of hostages are still in captivity, dozens of aid workers have been killed, and on 1 November a refugee camp was struck.

The population in Gaza lack access to electricity, fuel, food, or water. Civilians are unable to move in or out. Hospitals in Gaza are struggling to cope with the level of injuries and shortages of supplies. As fuel reserves expire, doctors and nurses are becoming powerless to treat the sick and injured. The UN has said parents will soon run out of food and water for their children. 

Aid organisations are facing several barriers to humanitarian access both into and around Gaza, caused by the fighting and by a slow, complex clearance system at Rafah crossing and the dangerous lack of fuel. Reports suggest only four of 70 organisations operating in Gaza before this escalation are maintaining some activities. 
 

How is the IRC helping?

There is an imperative to reduce the death and suffering of the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza. Following the work of IRC assessment teams on the ground, and commencement of aid flows from Egypt to Gaza, the IRC is initiating a response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the current conflict. We have a team on the ground in Egypt and are working with partners to deliver supplies and provide bespoke and specialist support in fields of health, water and sanitation, child and women’s protection and psycho-social interventions.

We will be using the dedicated systems we have developed in a range of contexts, including robust monitoring and due diligence, to help ensure that aid reaches the civilians who desperately need it.

What is the IRC calling for?

The IRC is calling for the following: 

  • Support aid delivery through a humanitarian ceasefire;
  • Release hostages now;
  • Fund humanitarian aid and ensure it reaches civilians in need;
  • Uphold international humanitarian law;
  • Protect civilians and aid workers.

A halt to the fighting must be meaningful to be impactful. In order to urgently alleviate suffering a “humanitarian ceasefire” needs to include:

  • Free movement of humanitarian supplies into Gaza;
  • Free and safe movement of humanitarian personnel;
  • Free and safe movement and gathering of civilians to access humanitarian aid and services;
  • Evacuation of the sick and the wounded within or out of the territory, alongside additional measures for the protection of civilians in accordance with International Humanitarian Law;
  • Immediate and unconditional release of all hostages;
  • A period of time long enough to allow the above to happen - the evidence on the ground is that this needs to be a minimum of five days.

Learn more about why a humanitarian ceasefire is necessary for civilians in Gaza.