October 17, 2023

Water supplies are reaching a life-threatening low across Gaza amidst a sustained blockade on fuel, water, and food. Lack of water and the threat of waterborne diseases could cause a health catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of people and an alarming threat to the lives of pregnant and breastfeeding women and their newborn children, ActionAid is warning.

Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, the Gender and Advocacy Specialist based in Ramallah, in Occupied Palestinian Territory with ActionAid Spain, said:

“With water nearly running out throughout Gaza, the situation is critical, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Unable to access water – and amidst the continuous bombardments and displacement – dehydrated women will struggle to produce the milk they need to feed their babies and keep them alive. Access to water is universally recognized as a basic human right, meaning that the continued blockade of Gaza is a denial of the rights of women and children across Gaza. We’re urgently calling for a humanitarian corridor into Gaza and the full and uninterrupted restoration of the water supplies from Israel into Gaza.”

Currently, only three liters of water are available per person in Gaza, with UNRWA stating that water has only been restored across southern Gaza, providing a limited water supply to only half of the population in the city of Khan Yunis, nearly 100,000 people. Water cannot be pumped across the Gaza Strip as much of the critical infrastructure needed to provide water to local communities has been destroyed and damaged in the continuous Israeli bombardment. The total collapse in water and sanitation services across Gaza also raises the threat of cholera and diarrheic diseases, which are two of the leading causes of death for children under five across the world.

According to the UNDP, pregnant and lactating women need 7.5 liters a day to keep themselves and their babies healthy, but there are only 3 liters available per person in Gaza right now. Gaza is home to 50,000 pregnant women, who are currently unable to access essential health services. Some 5,500 of these women are due to give birth in the coming month.

Fuel supplies have nearly run out, and hospitals are reporting that they will run out of power today, with many patients, including newborn babies in neonatal units, on life support, this presents a humanitarian disaster of an unprecedented scale.


We have the following spokespeople available on request:

  • Riham Jafari, Communication and Advocacy Coordinator at ActionAid in Palestine.
  • Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist at Alianza por la Solidaridad (ActionAid in Spain), currently in Ramallah.

22 hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been instructed by Israeli military forces to evacuate. But for many people, they remain the only safe place to shelter. Currently, 35,000 people are sheltering in Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa.

Bisan, a humanitarian youth volunteer with ActionAid Palestine, said:

“Surprisingly, we are still alive. Before becoming a shelter, this was one of the most important and largest hospitals in the Gaza Strip. The conditions here are miserable. We are without water, without food, without hygiene. People are sleeping and lying in the streets, in the corridors, and everywhere inside the hospital.”

Forcibly evacuating hospitals is not only a breach of international law but also a grave affront to humanity. With so many people injured and needing urgent treatment and care, these actions compound the already dire humanitarian situation and place the lives of patients and the medical professionals committed to treating them at severe risk.

The international community must come together to demand the reversal of evacuation orders and to ensure the protection of healthcare facilities and workers during this unprecedented time.

ActionAid continues to call for a ceasefire and an end to the repeated cycle of escalation. We are also calling for a safe humanitarian corridor to provide assistance and medicines and for the protection of civilians and infrastructure. Hospitals, schools, humanitarian facilities, and shelters must be protected from the fighting, they should not be either taken over by combatants or deliberately targeted.


Notes to editor 

Spokespeople are available:  

  • Riham Jafari, Communication and Advocacy Coordinator at ActionAid in Palestine
  • Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist at Alianza por la Solidaridad (ActionAid in Spain)

For media requests, please email Christal.James@actionaid.org or call 704 665 9743.

About ActionAid  

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty. 

Support Palestinians in crisis

As the human rights of people in the occupied Palestinian territories continue to be abused, women and children are especially at risk. Gaza faces a dire lack of medical facilities, schools, and homes, as so many have been hit by Israeli airstrikes. ActionAid works in communities near the border with Israel that have been most directly affected by the violence. ActionAid's women-led response is supporting the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.