DAMASCUS, 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.
Note to Editors: In 2015 UNICEF documented specific cases of all sides to the conflict in Syria using water as a weapon of war, including:
- In Aleppo City in the summer of 2015, opposition groups shut off the water supply more than 40 times, depriving approximately 1.5 million people of running water. The longest consecutive cut lasted more than two weeks.
- In November 2015, an air-strike hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant, cutting off piped water supplies affecting over two million people in Aleppo Governorate.
- On 16 January 2016, al-Khafseh water treatment plant was shut down, forcing people to rely on insufficient and sometimes unsafe ground water, affecting over two million people in Aleppo governorate.
- In the southern city of Dar’a, water supplies were cut multiple times in 2015 by armed groups controlling the source, affecting over 200,000 people.
- In Damascus and Rural Damascus especially since mid-2015, home to some 4.3 million people, opposition groups have cut water supplies at various sources.
- In Salamiyah, Hama, armed groups have cut off water, affecting over 185,000 people.
UNICEF leads the humanitarian WASH Sector inside Syria, coordinating support for the provision of water and sanitation services to the population. UNICEF’s WASH programming delivers water and sanitation services for Syrian people in all governorates of the country, focusing on three types of services: emergency delivery such as water trucking and emergency sanitation kits assists 2.4 million people; rehabilitation of infrastructure systems, including systems damaged by military attacks, provides water to 7.8 million people; and provision of water disinfectant for pumping stations supports clean water delivery to 12 million Syrians across all governorates.
About UNICEF: UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org/mena.
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Kieran Dwyer, UNICEF Country Office Syria, email@example.com, +963-992-892-847
Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org, +962-79-867-4628