On June 21, 2005 the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights organized a workshop titled "The Impact of the Environmental Pollution on Human Rights in Gaza".
Those who spoke included: Mr.
Hussein Abu Zaida from Gaza Municipality, Dr.
Nahed Ghaben from the Palestinian Water Authority, Mr.
Mohyi ad Din al Farra from the Ministry of the Local Government, Ms.
Lamis Akila and Mr.
Nabil Zaqout from the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority, as well as a number of representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Maumud Abu Rahma, Coordinator of the Training and Mass Communications Unit at Al Mezan opened the workshop and addressed the problems caused by the sewage treatment plant in south Gaza City, including its dangerous impact on human rights, and specifically on economic, social and cultural rights.
He spoke about the Center's findings on the sewage pools, and how they pose imminent threats to the lives of residents in the area, how they deprive people from their basic rights to education, health, water, adequate housing, and clean environment.
Abu Rahma affirmed that the PNA should be held accountable for the problems associated with the sewage treatment plant.
He urged civil society to coordinate their activities with those of the PNA in order to find long-term solutions aimed at preventing an environmental disaster in the area.
During his presentation, Mr.
Mohyi ad Din Al Farrah pointed out that the location of the pools and the hazards they pose stand in contravention to the Ministry's policy and goals.
He highlighted the Ministry's plans to find funding for the Gaza Municipality in order to ensure the speedy implementation of activities aimed at relieving the plants' negative impacts.
Nabil Zaqout and Lamis Akila spoke about the studies conducted by the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority on the environmental harms posed by the plant and its impact on human rights.
Zaqout spoke about how the IOF located three sewage treatment plants over the best underground water sources in the Gaza Strip.
He addressed the limited capacity of these plants and the threats they pose to the lives of Palestinians living in the Northern areas of the Gaza Strip, Gaza City, and Rafah.
Nahed Ghaben reviewed the technical aspects of the problem associated with the treatment plant as well as the potential solutions.
He discussed the Palestinian Authority's work on establishing a new sewage treatment plant and the problem they face in finding a suitable location.
Hussein Abu Zaida affirmed the need for concerned parties to implement appropriate solutions, including the need to allow for the transport of the treated water by building a proper transferring line into either the sea or the Gaza Valley.
The participants of the conference discussed the problems and recommended the following: Forming a committee to conduct follow-up examinations on the water treatment problem.
Presenting long-term solutions and involving local society in their implementation.
Building additional sewage pools in order to improve the treatment process.
Launching a campaign aimed at raising people's awareness of the risks associated with the polluted water flowing into the sea.
Implementing short-term solutions including the proper maintenance of the pools and the enlargement of the treatment plant.
Establishing an alternative transferring line to transport the treated water to the sea or to Gaza valley.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is committed to making this issue a priority until long term solutions are effectively implemented.