2 April 2012

Adalah: Sewage Flowing in Arab Bedouin Village Severely Impacts Residents' Health

(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) On 1 April 2012, Adalah sent a letter to the Head of the Abu Basma Regional Council, Mr. Rahmeem Youna, demanding that the local authority find an immediate solution to the problem of the river of sewage that is running through the center of the Arab Bedouin village of Umm Batin in the Naqab (Negev). The sewage constitutes a health and environmental safety hazard, and has a negative impact on the well-being of the 5,000 residents and on their quality of life. A branch of the Hebron River passes through the village and is currently running with sewage.

Adalah Attorney Aram Muhameed, who sent the letter, emphasized that the sewage flows slowly across the surface of the water, and gathers into stagnant and swampy water in certain places, becoming a fertile environment for breeding harmful insects. Often vulnerable parts of the population, including the sick and children, become infected or develop skin sensitivities because of repeated bites from mosquitos. In addition, the smell of sewage hangs over the village year-round and is exacerbated in the summer.

The household sewage water contains hazardous substances and disease-causing bacteria, and continuous exposure to its fumes is dangerous for the residents. The river runs under a bridge that divides the village, and some children must cross the bridge to reach their homes or the village school. During rainy days, the bridge is flooded with rain water mixed with sewage, and is completely impassible.

Adalah stressed that to eliminate these risks the Regional Council should address the flow of sewage in the village immediately. Neglect will create a large impact on the health of the residents and their right to life in a decent, clean environment year-round.

Photos of the running sewage in Umm Batin