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05 AUG 2014

Oxfam warns Gaza crisis spiralling out of control

The crisis in Gaza is fast spiralling out of control with water supplies critically low and a public health crisis imminent, Oxfam warned today. The collapse of the latest brief ceasefire announcement means many more lives will be at risk. Oxfam Hong Kong launches an appeal for HK$2 million so that families sheltering from the violence can receive urgently needed humanitarian aid.

More than 1,800 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and over 9,400 injured. Nearly three quarters of those killed are civilians, and over 400 are children.

Conditions are increasingly desperate in overcrowded schools and buildings where up to 485,000 people are sheltering. Many people are getting as little as three litres of safe water a day, far below international emergency standards. Massive destruction of water and sewage systems and electricity supplies has reduced water supply to Gaza's entire population of 1.8 million people. Spills of raw sewage threaten to contaminate water sources and the threat of disease is rising. There are already reports of 30 cases of meningitis, as well as skin diseases among children and cases of gastroenteritis. 

Oxfam teams and local partners are now helping more than 211,000 people. We supply water to more than 182,000 people, distributed food vouchers to around 26,000 people to help them buy essential supplies, and distributed food packages to over 1,300 people. However, the massive destruction of infrastructure and the ongoing Israeli bombardment means aid workers are increasingly overwhelmed and struggling to meet even basic needs.

The destruction of Gaza's only power plant earlier this week has plunged much of Gaza into darkness and left vital water pumps struggling to keep going. Three of Gaza's four main power supplies have now been completely destroyed or extensively damaged by the violence of the past few weeks, cutting off more than 80 percent of Gaza's power. Most municipal water supplies have now stopped running.

"The outrageous level of destruction is much worse than anything we have seen in previous military operations and the situation is getting worse by the hour. Tens of thousands of families have fled but are trapped with nowhere safe to escape, sheltering in horrific conditions and terrified to move. The international community's response to such suffering has so far been shamefully weak. Every day that this goes on is putting many more civilian lives at risk," said Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.  

At least 25 medical facilities have been hit by airstrikes and shelling. Hospitals that Oxfam works with are struggling to cope. Six of the nine busiest hospitals in Gaza have been directly hit or badly damaged, with three of them now closed. Another four Oxfam-supported health clinics and many others have been damaged or shut. Many health facilities are running short of fuel to keep life-saving operations going.   

Oxfam said the international community must do much more to ensure an urgent and permanent ceasefire, but that lasting peace will only be possible with an end to the ongoing blockade of Gaza. For the past seven years people in Gaza have been living under an Israeli blockade which prevents the free flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza, devastating the economy and severely restricting people's livelihoods.

Donation methods as follows:

Donations can be transferred to the various bank accounts of Oxfam Hong Kong:

Hong Kong

HSBC:  001-537000-010  
Bank of China:  012-874-1-049363-3
Wing Hang Bank: 035-802-862123-003


Bank of China Macau : 01-01-20-840951 (MOP) 

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About Oxfam

Oxfam is a worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sarah Chu (Senior Communications Officer)

Tel: +852 3120 5280