The number of displaced people in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli army offensive has now reached one million people, said today at a press conference the communications director of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Juliette Touma.
From his offices in Gaza, Touma said by video conference that These figures are “changing” and do not stop growingbut that his agency, with 13,000 employees and abundant infrastructure in the Strip, is the best placed to observe the high level of displacement.
A large proportion of the internally displaced have sought refuge with relatives or acquaintances further south, but at least 400,000 are being sheltered in a hundred UNRWA centres, mainly schools – which can function as shelters – but also in food warehouses or materials and without basic services, “not equipped for human beings”.
The shelters are so overcrowded that sometimes “Hundreds of people have to share a single bathroom”he explained.
Furthermore, he warned of the serious shortage of goods in Gaza: “No merchandise has entered Gaza since the 7th (October): neither food, nor water, nor any kind of aid.”Touma insisted.
Touma warned in particular that the lack of drinking water – which came mainly from desalination plants that run on fuel and are now stopped – is leading Gazans to resort to informal sources of water, mainly precariously dug wells, and this is a very likely source of infectious diseases.
On the other hand, UNRWA has lost fourteen workers in the Israeli bombings, most of them teachers, Touma said.