Saturday 20 July, 2019

WATCH: Poor families suffer in cold season

Families in Gaza are struggling to keep warm this winter.

An electricity shortage is making harsh conditions even worse for many Gaza residents.

Huddling around a fire to keep warm, Mohammad Abu Nimer and his family are doing their best to survive without an electricity supply.

The father of five is forced to live this way because Gaza is currently experiencing its worst electricity shortages since Hamas seized control of the territory 10 years ago.

 

 

"Winter has killed us, and there are no clothes for children," he says.

Winter is normally harsh on Gaza.

But its two million residents have been getting as few as four hours of electricity a day for the past eight months.

Nimer collects plastic from garbage to burn in order to keep his children warm.

Because of bad eyesight he struggles to maintain a strong roof to keep them dry.

"I used to put nylon over the children to protect them from the rain, and here we are in an empty area and strong winds take off the roof and I cannot go to get the tin sheets because of my inability to see."

While shelter from the rain is a massive issue, just keeping his children warm while they sleep remains the biggest problem.

Even power alternatives, including batteries and solar systems owned by those who can afford them, cannot run electrical heaters.

The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has kept electricity and payment cuts up on Gaza to keep the pressure on Hamas, though the two sides have made unprecedented steps in their reconciliation attempt.

Qatar has not sent in aid for electricity payments since its rift with neighbouring Arab countries.

Therefore the people of Gaza are forced to resort to primitive methods for heating - lighting fires in close quarters which can prove dangerous.

"Fire is the biggest cause of disease for us, but it is indispensable to us because we live in darkness," says Nimer.

"We are a dying people because of this life. There is no food for my children. We do not even have a shekel (coin)."

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