Friday March 22, 2019
“We can’t image out lives without water. It’s really good that we have a water tank next to our tent.” Mujbal and Mutaab are brothers who have been displaced from Al-Qaim, near the Syrian border, for almost a year. 2018.
NEW YORK – Children under the age of
15 living in countries affected by protracted conflict are, on average,
almost three times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by
a lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene than by direct violence,
UNICEF said in a new report today.
Water Under Fire looks at mortality rates in 16 countries
going through prolonged conflicts and finds that, in most of them,
children under the age of five are more than 20 times more likely to die
from diarrheal-related deaths linked to lack of access to safe water
and sanitation than direct violence.
“The odds are already stacked against children living through
prolonged conflicts – with many unable to reach a safe water source,”
said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The reality is that
there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than
Without safe and effective water, sanitation and hygiene services,
children are at risk of malnutrition and preventable diseases including
diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and polio. Girls are particularly affected:
They are vulnerable to sexual violence as they collect water or venture
out to use latrines. They deal with affronts to their dignity as they
bathe and manage menstrual hygiene. And they miss classes during
menstruation if their schools have no suitable water and sanitation
These threats are exacerbated during conflict when deliberate and
indiscriminate attacks destroy infrastructure, injure personnel and cut
off the power that keeps water, sanitation and hygiene systems running.
Armed conflict also limits access to essential repair equipment and
consumables such as fuel or chlorine – which can be depleted, rationed,
diverted or blocked from delivery. Far too often, essential services are
“Deliberate attacks on water and sanitation are attacks on vulnerable
children,” said Fore. “Water is a basic right. It is a necessity for
UNICEF works in conflict countries to provide safe drinking water and
adequate sanitation services through improving and repairing water
systems, trucking water, setting up latrines and promoting awareness of
UNICEF is calling on governments and partners to:
- Stop attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure and personnel;
- Link life-saving humanitarian responses to the development of sustainable water and sanitation systems for all;
- Reinforce governments and aid agencies’ capacity to consistently
provide high-quality water and sanitation services in emergencies.