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UN declares emergency for Gaza floods

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

U.N.-NEW YORK-CLIMATE CHANGE-PRESS CONFERENCEThe UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has declared an emergency in Gaza City following extreme weather and severe flooding over the past 48 hours.

According to a statement issued , no casualties or injuries have been reported, however, hundreds of residents in the flooded areas around the Sheikh Radwan storm water lagoon have evacuated their homes.

One UNRWA school and a Collective Centre in Gaza City have been affected by the rising waters.

The agency has established an area emergency operations room in Gaza City following contingency planning undertaken last week.

It has provided 60,000 litres of emergency fuel supplies to run back-up generators of pumping stations and portable pumps and has also prepared to provide adequate shelter to internally displaced refugees and non refugees should there be a need.

As a precautionary measure, 63 schools have been shut across the city.

“We are very concerned about such severe storms this early in the season and on the back of unprecedented damage and destruction caused by the recent conflict,” UNRWA’s Director of Operations Robert Turner said.

“We are particularly concerned for those families still seeking adequate shelter and preparing for the winter months, and for the impact the flooding is already having on children unable to attend school.”

In December 2013, the fiercest winter storm the region has seen for many years, Alexa, hit Gaza Strip, and brought torrential rains and widespread flooding that displaced thousands.