Taps run dry for two million people as fighting intensifies in Aleppo

TORONTO and DAMASCUS, Aug. 9, 2016 /CNW/ - Two million people in Aleppo are left with no access to running water through the public network, as escalation of attacks and fighting damaged electricity networks essential to pump water supplies throughout the city.

On July 31, attacks struck the electricity transmission station which powered water pumping to the eastern and western parts of the city. Authorities were able to urgently restore an alternative power line on August 4, and the city's water system was functioning again. But in less than 24 hours, the intensification in fighting had damaged these lines, hampering all repair efforts. As a result, the whole city has been without running water for four days.

"Children and families in Aleppo are facing a catastrophic situation. These cuts are coming amid a heat wave, putting children at a grave risk of waterborne diseases," said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Syria. "Getting clean water running again cannot wait for the fighting to stop. Children's lives are in serious danger."

UNICEF with partners are scaling up the emergency response to bring safe drinking water to civilians in the city. However, urgent repairs to electricity infrastructure are critical as pumping water is the only way to meet the needs of the city's two million residents. Unless water pumping is restored in the coming days civilians will be forced to resort to unsafe water sources.

"We urge parties to the conflict to immediately allow safe access for technicians to conduct critical repairs to the electricity and water systems. This is the only way people all over the city can have safe drinking water. Civilian infrastructure like electricity and water pumping stations must never be attacked," said Singer.

Note to Editors
UNICEF emergency response in Aleppo, with our partners, includes:

  • UNICEF has scaled up its emergency water trucking in the western parts of Aleppo city since the recent escalation of attacks and fighting on July 31. With our partners ICRC and SARC, UNICEF is trucking emergency drinking water daily to an estimated 325,000 per day of the most vulnerable people in the western part of the city, including families displaced by recent fighting.
  • Safe drinking water is currently being trucked from UNICEF-equipped 70 ground water wells and the Queiq River, close to Aleppo city, where UNICEF and partners installed 28 water treatment units.
  • In the eastern parts of Aleppo, up to 300,000 people – over a third of them children - are relying on water from wells, which is potentially contaminated by faecal matter and unsafe to drink. UNICEF and partners continue to seek access to east Aleppo city, to resume urgent repairs to water pipes and other infrastructure, to complete the installation and equipping of wells, and increase water storage capacity, as well as deliver emergency water trucking where necessary.

UNICEF's programmes deliver water and sanitation services for children and families in Syria in all governorates of the country, focusing on three types of services: emergency delivery such as water trucking and emergency hygiene and sanitation kits; rehabilitation of infrastructure systems, including systems damaged by military attacks; and provision of water disinfectant for pumping stations supports clean water - in total, with our partners, providing safe drinking water for 13 million Syrians across all governorates.                                   

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.


Image with caption: "As fighting intensifies in Aleppo, children are facing increasing risks of water shortages. UNICEF is scaling up its response to bring safe drinking water to civilians in the city. ©UNICEF/Syria/Aleppo/2016/Khuder Al-Issa (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160809_C1238_PHOTO_EN_749795.jpg

For further information: Media Contacts: Stefanie Carmichael, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8866, 647-500-4230 (mobile), scarmichael@unicef.ca


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