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‘Appalling conditions’: children unfed, thousands share a toilet in Gaza, Oxfam says

‘Appalling conditions’: children unfed, thousands share a toilet in Gaza, Oxfam says
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Israel-Gaza war: Palestinian children are unfed, thousands share a toilet, Oxfam says

Palestinians displaced by the Gaza war are living in “appalling” conditions, with children sometimes going for a whole day without food and thousands sharing the same toilet, Oxfam warned on Tuesday.

Deadly Israeli bombardment and fighting has raged in the Gaza Strip’s far-southern Rafah area near the Egyptian border in recent weeks, again displacing those who had fled there in search of safety.

More than one million people have fled Rafah for other areas, according to the UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.

Oxfam said more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population is estimated to be crammed into less than a fifth of the besieged territory.

Palestinians prepare to evacuate the Al-Mawasi area. Photo: EPA-EFE

“Despite Israeli assurances that full support would be provided for people fleeing, most of Gaza has been deprived of humanitarian aid, as famine inches closer,” the aid agency said.

“A food survey by aid agencies in May found that 85 per cent of children did not eat for a whole day at least once in the three days before the survey was conducted,” it added.

Since Israeli troops launched their ground assault on Rafah on May 6, an average of eight aid trucks per day have entered, Oxfam said, citing UN figures.

While hundreds of commercial food trucks are estimated to be entering daily, the goods on board include non-nutritious energy drinks, chocolate and biscuits, and are often very expensive, it added.

“By the time a famine is declared, it will be too late,” Oxfam’s Middle East and North Africa director, Sally Abi Khalil, said.

“Obstructing tonnes of food for a malnourished population while waving through caffeine-laced drinks and chocolate is sickening.”

A Palestinian child pulls water containers. Photo: Reuters

In an interview with French television last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected allegations of starvation in Gaza, saying everything had been done to avert a famine.

Gazans were eating 3,200 calories a day or 1,000 more than the daily requirement, he said.

Oxfam said families in some parts of southern Gaza, like the coastal area of Al-Mawasi, designated a “humanitarian zone” by the Israeli army, were getting by with barely any water or sanitation services.

“Living conditions are so appalling that in Al-Mawasi, there are just 121 latrines for over 500,000 people – or 4,130 people having to share each toilet,” Oxfam said.

Meera, an Oxfam staff member in Al-Mawasi who has been displaced seven times since October, described conditions there as “unbearable”.

“There is no access to clean water, and people are forced to rely on the sea,” she said.

On Monday, sewage flooded a camp for the displaced in Khan Yunis after a waste water pipe burst, an Agence France-Presse reporter said, with some trying to scoop the filth out of their tents using plastic bottles.

The war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,550 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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