One million Syrians at risk due to severe water shortages
Up to one million people are at risk due to severe interruptions to a critical source of water in north-east Syria, UN aid agencies have said.
The Alouk water station in Al-Hasakah Governorate, which provides clean drinking water to nearly 460,000 people, has intermittently stopped functioning due to a number of factors, including reduced access for technicians to carry out maintenance and repairs and insufficient electricity.
"Ongoing disruptions to the critical Alouk water station in northeast Syria must stop," UN agencies said in a joint statement.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Imran Riza, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Muhannad Hadi and UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ted Chaiban said up to one million people are impacted, including many of the most vulnerable displaced families living in camps and informal settlements.
"Reports indicate that families are resorting to potentially unsafe sources of water or limiting consumption, which may contribute to growth in a range of potentially fatal water-borne diseases, and further undermine the already fragile public health," the statement said.
As COVID-19 cases remain an ongoing threat due to the limited availability of vaccines, adequate and uninterrupted access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is critical to stem transmission.
The Alouk water station continues to be the only viable source of water for people living in the area.
"Cuts in electricity also impact the operation of critical civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and health facilities," the statement said.
"We call for the resumption of water and electricity services and the protection of civilians’ access to water, and sanitation. We remind all parties that water stations are civilian infrastructure that should be protected at all times."
In Syria, 70 percent of the population is without regular access to safe drinking water because of water cuts and destruction of basic infrastructure, according to UN estimates.