Catarina de Albuquerque
A United Nations media release announces that a group of United Nations independent experts have criticized the conclusion of the Palmer Report that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal. The five UN experts said, “As a result of more than four years of Israeli blockade, 1.6 million Palestinian women, men and children are deprived of their fundamental human rights and subjected to collective punishment, in flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, stated, “This reality (of 90-95 per cent of Gaza’s water polluted and unfit for human consumption) is a grave threat to the health and dignity of the people living in Gaza and immediate measures are required to ensure full enjoyment of the rights to water and sanitation. Israel must facilitate the entry of necessary materials to rebuild the water and sanitation systems in Gaza, as a matter of priority, otherwise this public health catastrophe will continue unabated. …Urgent steps are also needed to protect the coastal acquifer, the sole fresh water source in Gaza, from further deterioration. Pollution of the acquifer from raw sewage, over-abstraction of water, and increased salinity are so severe that it may take centuries to reverse the damage caused to this vital source of water.”
The media release highlights, “Under human rights law and international humanitarian law the people of Gaza, even while living under occupation, have the right to…accessible and affordable water, as well as proper sanitation services and facilities. ..The Israeli blockade of Gaza must end immediately and the people of Gaza must be afforded protection in line with international law.”
The full media release is at http://www.ohchr.org/FR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11363&LangID=E.
A campaign blog – Palestinians denied the right to water – can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=1936.