© UNICEF/UN011403/El Ouerchefani – Children approach a truck carrying humanitarian aid for Moadamiyeh, part of an overnight mission to the besieged town. In total, UNICEF delivered sixteen truckloads of winter clothing and diapers.
DAMASCUS/ HONG KONG, 6 March 2016 – The resumption of operations on 4 March of the al-Khafseh water treatment facility is critical for the lives and well-being of more than two million people.
The al-Khafseh facility is one of the most important in Syria, producing an average of 400 million litres of drinking water daily. Drawing raw water from the Euphrates River, it is the sole source of drinking water for over two million people for the entire city of Aleppo and eastern areas of the governorate. On 16 January this year the al-Khafseh facility was deliberately shutdown.
“Getting clean water flowing again for the people of Aleppo is lifesaving” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Syria. “One million children rely on this facility for safe drinking water essential for preventing waterborne diseases which can be life-threatening and in extreme cases deadly for children.”
Water has been used as a weapon of war by all sides to the conflict in Syria. Millions of civilians are being deprived of clean water for drinking and domestic use. Tactics include shutting water off at the source, airstrikes and ground attacks on water facilities and hindering access for civilian workers to maintain, repair and operate facilities. UNICEF has documented such tactics in areas including Aleppo, Damascus, Rural Damascus, Dar’a and Hama. In 2015 alone, over five million Syrians faced potentially life-threatening water shortages as a result.
“Parties to the conflict must stop attacking or deliberately interrupting water supply, which is indispensable for the survival of the population. They should protect the treatment, distribution systems, pipelines and personnel who repair water installations” said Ms Singer. “Syria’s children and their families have a right to safe drinking water and clean water for hygiene and health” said Ms. Singer.
Over the past weeks, UNICEF has been working closely with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the ICRC to support water trucking, emergency repairs and rehabilitation so that water infrastructure systems are able to function to serve the entire population of Aleppo.