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The Guardian 28 January, 2009

Crisis point reached in Gaza

A humanitarian crisis in Gaza has been created by the escalation of conflict and by nearly two years of instability and political tensions. Intensive military operations that began on December 27 have exacerbated the deterioration of social services and infrastructure throughout Gaza. There are currently widespread shortages of food, clean water, electricity, fuel, medical supplies and drugs. The World Food Program has estimated that some bakeries in Gaza have only a two-week supply of flour remaining; it has also been estimated that 60 percent of Gazans living in Gaza City and central Gaza receive running water only once every five to seven days. The supply of chlorine used to treat water is dwindling rapidly, increasing the risk of diseases from untreated sewage. With most families out of work, adults lack the cash needed to buy what goods remain in markets to sustain their families.

Situation affecting children

After three weeks of Israel’s war around 1,500 Palestinians were killed, over 400 of them children. Among the more than 4,000 injured, more than a quarter were children, some left with severe disabilities.

The situation has reached a critical level for many children who are exposed to and experiencing violence, fear and unrest in their communities. Caregivers say children are showing signs of emotional distress and exhaustion. Children are at greater risk of malnutrition because of the shortages of food and dairy products.

The Gaza Community Health Program estimates that half Gaza’s children — around 350,000 — will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

On the Israeli side, 13 died, three of them civilians.

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