The United Nations Children’s Fund has raised alarm over a potential increase in diarrheal diseases among people, especially children, in the areas around Damascus due to lack of clean water.
A UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac on Monday informed the media at a press briefing in Geneva that private distributors were providing water in and around Damascus, but he was worried about the quality and price of those supplies.
Boulierac further said that residents only have access to water for up to two hours every three or four days. Therefore, he said, residents have resorted to getting water from private distributors, whose supplies were not regulated with regards to price or quality. The spokesperson further said that the lack of regulation of the quality of water has prompted concerns about the risk of water-borne diseases among children.
The UNICEF also reported that children are taking on the burden of water collection for their families and that most children walk at least half an hour to collect water from the nearest mosque or public water point. The children have to wait in line for up to two hours in freezing temperatures.
Jan Egeland, head of the UN-backed humanitarian task force for Syria, said on Thursday cutting off water already had “dramatic” consequences. He noted that water supplies to 5.5 million people have been hit “because of fighting, or because of sabotage or because of both.”
Regime forces and the Hezbollah Militias have launched a ferocious assault on Wadi Barada valley northwest of Damascus since late December, bombing the area with all types of weapons, including internationally banned ones.
Activists in Wadi Barada valley said that regime forces on Thursday morning fired four rockets containing poisonous chlorine gas on the outskirts of the village of Bseima in the valley.
Airstrikes by the Assad regime’s air force last week directly targeted the Ayn Alfija water pumping station. The airstrikes also caused damage to a Roman temple and destroyed the entrance of a historical citadel at Ayn Alfija water facility.
The Syrian Coalition called upon the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to Wadi Barada valley to investigate the crimes being committed against civilians. It said that the Assad regime is using water as a weapon of war against the Syrian people after bombing the Ayn Alfija water facility.
Regime forces and the Hezbollah militias have escalated the assault on Wadi Barada valley 15 kilometers northwest of the capital Damascus despite the cease-fire which went into force on December 29.
Civic institutions and civil society organizations in the besieged Wadi Barada valley have called on sponsors of the ceasefire agreement to put pressure on the Assad regime and its allied foreign militias to stop violating the agreement.
In a statement released on Jan 2, the civic institutions called upon the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to enter the valley to see the worsening humanitarian situation. They pledged to help bring in maintenance work to repair the water facility once the bombardment has stopped. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)