On the afternoon of 11th of February, Ahmed al-Zein, 10, from Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip went out with his friends to hunt birds. They made their way to a sewage water basin near the Bedouin Village where the birds gather. Approximately an hour later, Ahmed’s family learnt that he had fallen into the sewage basin. His family rushed to the basin along with crews of civil defense workers, who managed to find his body three hours later.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is now demanding an investigation into the drowning and for those responsible for providing protective measures around the basin to be identified and held responsible.
“PCHR has warned of the risks threatening the lives of residents in the Bedouin Village due to the presence of the mentioned sewage water basins and the leakage of waste water to the groundwater aquifer,” they explained in a press release. They were particularly critical of the fact that this kind of incident had occurred before and yet little action had been taken to avoid recurrence.
Back in December 2011, two siblings died in a sewage basin near Khan Younis refugee camp. In March 2007, north of Beit Lahia was flooded and five Palestinians from a Bedouin Village died and another 20 sustained injuries when the sewage basin overflowed.
The children of Gaza may soon be able to enjoy green and sustainable schools yet beyond the school gate they face significant risks due to poor sewage infrastructure. Insufficiently protected sewage basins are a real threat that need immediate action. Indeed, it has now emerged that a large-scale infrastructure project has begun in Gaza.
Home demolitions have taken place in Gaza City (with some serious criticisms about the expulsion of residents without explanation) to clear the way for a sewage and water network. According to Ram Almeghari, a journalist living in the the Gaza Strip: “Over the past five years, the Gaza authorities have been unable to commence reconstruction projects across the coastal enclave due to continued lack of raw materials, caused by the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This is the first time since the blockade that Palestinians in Gaza are able to execute major infrastructure projects.”
A municipal engineer also acknowledged the serious need for repairs in the region – let’s hope that securing sewage water basins is a priority.
: Image via Olly L/flickr.
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