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Unrecognized Villages Without Running Water

Each Precious Drop: Two Unrecognized Villages without Regular Running Water

The over 1,000 residents of ‘Atir and Um AlHiran, two unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, are not connected to running water – even during the hot summer. In addition, they face discrimination in the allocation of safe water. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the residents demand immediate changes.

The over 1,000 residents of two unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev (southern section of Israel), obtain their water through one connection. The pipeline supplies about 3,500 cubic meters of water a month. As a result, the residents who reside at a distance from the pipeline have not received running water for the past 4 months and must purchase water at a great cost and transfer them- on their own- many kilometers to their homes.

The residents of the two villages- ‘Atir and Um AlHiran- report that especially now, during the hot summer, days go by during which they have no water. Due to this they lower their daily consumption of water to an abnormal and undesirable level. The residents consume some 115 liters of water per person, per day. The residents of the nearby Jewish community Omer consume, on average, some 350 liters per person per day, and during the summer the average rises.

Another health issue is the fact that the lack of running water forces the residents to store water in containers, which are breeding grounds for germs.

About 4 years ago the residents received permission to be connected to running water, but already in the summer of 2001 problems arose. The actions of the “Bedouin Authority” – the government agency that handles issues pertaining to the Negev Bedouin- seem to imply that it does not intend to solve the problem in the unrecognized villages. Rather, they assume creating new towns for the Bedouins form a proper solution for this urgent problem.

Israel is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Comment 14 to article 12 of the convention established that safe, drinkable water is an integral part of the right to health. The water must be accessible and within a reasonable distance from the residents, even in rural regions. The state is obligated to supply water as part of its overall obligation to provide proper health services. The right to water was recently recognized as its own right (Comment 15 to articles 11&12, The Right to Water, 2002).

The residents of the villages and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel demand that running water be supplied immediately to the people, including the elderly, the ill and children, living without proper infrastructure in the hot Negev desert.

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