No Access to Safe Water Threatens Aleppo’s Families

After water pumps were damaged and left without electricity for several days, nearly two million residents of Aleppo still do not have access to safe water leaving even amid emerging reports of water and fuel delivery.

Aleppo went without running water for almost two weeks as a result of recent bombings that damaged infrastructure and cut the power to vital water pumps that deliver clean drinking water throughout the city. Humanitarian aid workers are striving to deliver crucial assistance and fuel to the region. UNICEF managed to deliver fuel to the Sulaiman Al Halabi pumping station between August 9 and August 14. It was also reported UNICEF delivered fuel to government-held western parts of Aleppo on Sunday, August 21. Even with the deliveries, it still leaves families in rebel-held eastern Aleppo without clean water.

Caught in the middle of the war between the regime forces and the opposition, families in the war-stricken region have continued to lose access to safe water as the fighting intensifies. Additionally, they have not had access to fuel to boil the water in an effort to kill the possible bacteria in the local well water. This has resulted in higher illnesses, especially in children and those with weakened immune systems, after they have consumed the contaminated water.

In addition to severe sanitary water shortages, food is in scarce supply. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from starvation every day—and those numbers continue to increase. In a press conference, United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura has said that none of the humanitarian aid convoys have reached a single besieged Syrian in Aleppo.

De Mistura has called for a 48-hour cessation of violence to allow aid and medical workers into both regions to deliver essential food, medical supplies, and to evacuate those in need of serious medical attention. The ceasefire would give workers the opportunity to fix electrical and water infrastructures in the city.

Russia has agreed to the short ceasefire, releasing its own terms of the agreement. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, released a statement saying that this would give them the opportunity to establish routes for the “U.N. convoys to bring aid to rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo and to the western side, held by the government.” Both sides are fully expected to enforce cooperation in the ceasefire to allow for the delivery of aid.

A spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke stated, “Trucks with food, water, and medicine are ready to move immediately and ambulances to evacuate urgent medical cases are on standby.”

According to the biweekly Syria Crisis report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), just in Aleppo alone, nearly two million residents are currently living without electricity and water every day.

The report also details between 250,000 to 275,000 residents have become trapped in eastern Aleppo after the Syrian army cut off Castello Road—the single road running in and out of the region—on July 7. Since then, fighting and airstrikes have escalated, increasing the death toll on both sides.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, which started in March 2011, citizens on both sides continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice as a result of the fighting between opposition groups and Syrian government forces. It has been estimated that between 250,000 to 470,000 families and children have lost their lives amidst the fighting and air strikes. Millions of others have been displaced and forced to flee the country they once called “home.”

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