Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UN will send post-conflict environmental team to Gaza

Environment News Service: The United Nations is preparing to send a post-conflict assessment team into the Gaza Strip in early May to determine the impact of the recent conflict with Israel on the region's environment and infrastructure. Early UN assessments show that damage to infrastructure has led to increased discharge of raw sewage into groundwater supplies and the Mediterranean Sea, posing a problem for authorities and the public in Gaza and potentially also in Israel.

…The team will include up to eight UNEP and international independent experts in areas of water and waste water management, asbestos and hazardous wastes monitoring, coastal and marine environmental assessment and institutional and economic evaluation.

Their work follows the early recovery needs assessment led by the UN Development Programme. A few days after the cease-fire in January 2009, a UNEP expert was deployed to the Gaza Strip to make an initial assessment of the environmental impacts as part of the UNDP-led Early Recovery and Reconstruction Assessment.…These early assessments identified areas in need of more extensive, investigation following the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009 including:
  • Solid Waste Management: The recent conflict created large quantities of building demolition waste, which is often contaminated with hazardous materials such as asbestos. Even before the most recent conflict, Gaza did not have an appropriate system for waste segregation and disposal. Now, the creation of such a large quantity of solid waste has overloaded the already inadequate infrastructure.
  • Waste Water Management: The Gaza Strip lacked an adequate sewerage system prior to the most recent conflict and damage of the existing sewerage infrastructure further aggravated an already serious public health situation. Detailed analysis of the impact on ground water will be required.
  • Management of Contaminated Land: Small-scale industries, such as factories, cement works and garages were struck during the conflict. This has created numerous potentially contaminated sites within the urban environment....
January 2009, a destroyed mosque in the Gaza Strip, photo by ISM Palestine, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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