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95% of Gaza groundwater 'not fit for human use'

12:00 Sep 13 2012 Gaza

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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Gaza Strip is undergoing a real water crisis which threatens people's lives, the Hamas government's agriculture minister said Thursday.

"About 95 percent of the groundwater in the Gaza Strip is not fit for human use in general, and may cause a number of diseases and health problems," Mohammad al-Agha said.

In al-Agha's interview, published by the Palestine Center for Strategic Studies, he said the population in Gaza needed to be aware of the crisis affecting Gaza's water.

"The Arab world in general and the Gaza Strip in particular are classified as dry regions. The main reason for this crisis in the Gaza Strip is the occupation and its policies," he said.

"We call on all specialized and concerned organizations to take necessary measures that will help finding solutions to this crisis."

In August, a UN report warned that Gaza could soon lose its main source of fresh water, the underground coastal aquifer, which could become unusable by 2016 and irreversibly damaged by 2020.

The World Health Organization says Gazans have an average of 70-90 liters per person per day, compared to a minimum of of 100 liters a day recommended by WHO.

“We have respiratory diseases, skin diseases, eye diseases, gastroenteritis, which can all be linked to polluted water,” said Mohamed al-Kashef, director of the international cooperation department in the Gaza health ministry, in an August interview with a UN news agency.
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