UNICEF warns of worsening hygiene situation for Syrian displaced

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Syrian children outside their UNHCR tent at Jordan's Za'atri refugee camp. Photo: UNHCR/M. Abu Asaker

Over four million children affected by the Syrian crisis are at risk of contracting communicable diseases such as diarrhoea due to lack of clean water and sanitation facilities, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The fund says internally displaced Syrians and those living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries are likely to experience serious water shortage in the coming summer months.

Marixie Mercado from UNICEF says displaced families and refugees are living in overcrowded places where maintenance of proper hygiene was a major issue adding that the situation is likely to worsen in the soaring summer  temperatures.

"UNICEF is warning that soaring summer temperatures, overcrowding and worsening hygiene are the latest threats facing four million children affected by the on going conflict in Syria and that without enough safe water and sanitation the likelihood of children falling sick with diarrhoea and other diseases is certain to rise.  As the conflict triggers more population movement, UNICEF is accelerating efforts to provide sustainable water sanitation and hygiene services, reaching almost nine million people since the beginning of the year. In Syria, new generators and repaired systems are keeping water networks and purification plants operational even in areas where heavy fighting has occurred. In Jordan, UNICEF and partners track in more than four million litres of water a day to Zaatari camp while rehabilitating more networks and infrastructure in nearby towns. Water infrastructure is also being installed in a new refugee camp in Azraq. In Lebanon, UNICEF and partners have distributed hygiene supplies to more than 430,000 people."

UNICEF says it requires $200 million to provide water and sanitation services to families displaced inside Syria and those who have fled the country into Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

So far the fund has managed to raise $ 76 million to provide the services.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

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