Severe water shortages compound misery in Syria

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A boy drinks the remaining water in his jerrycan while waiting with other children in a queue for safe water in the town of Douma in the East Ghouta area of Rural Damascus, Syria. Photo: UNICEF/Bassam Khabieh (file)

People in war-torn Syria are deliberately being denied access to water, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Amid the unremitting brutality of the war and a scorching summer heat wave, UNICEF says there is increasing evidence that parties to the conflict are using water to achieve military and political gains.

Maria Carlino reports.

In recent months, up to five million people across Syria have suffered the consequences of long and sometimes deliberate interruptions to their water supplies, according to UNICEF.

The agency said that in the northern city of Aleppo, where fighting has crippled the main pumping station for months at a time, there have been 18 deliberate water cuts this year alone.

Water prices have increased in Aleppo by up to 3,000 per cent in recent weeks.

Peter Salama, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said denying civilians access to water is a flagrant violation of the laws of war and it must end.

"Clean water is both a basic need and a fundamental right, in Syria as it is anywhere else", Mr Salama said.

Water availability in Syria is about half what it was before fighting broke out in 2011.

Maria Carlino, United Nations.

Duration: 51″


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