UN calls for end to attacks on civilian infrastructure after airstrike cut water supplies to Aleppo

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Syrian children collect water from the side of a road in a rebel-held area in Aleppo. File photo: AFP

GENEVA – An air strike on a water treatment plant in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo last Thursday cut water supplies to some 3.5 million people, and while pumping has been partly restored, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that 1.4 million still have reduced supply.

“In Syria, the rules of war, including those meant to protect vital civilian infrastructure, continue to be broken on a daily basis. The air-strike which reportedly hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant in…Aleppo last Thursday is a particularly alarming example,” said UNICEF Representative in Syria, Hanaa Singer in a statement.

Ms. Singer said that the water pumping operations at the facility, on which approximately 3.5 million people depend, have since been partially restored, but more than 1.4 million people in rural Aleppo continue to suffer interruptions to their supply.

She added that the al-Khafseh facility is one of the most important in Syria, producing an average of 18 million litres of drinking water daily and the damage of the plant has forced people to draw raw water from the Euphrates River, which is now the sole source of drinking water for four million people across Aleppo governorate.

The UNICEF Representative in Syria stressed that the international humanitarian law protects civilian infrastructure and the right of civilians to access services.

“The UNICEF calls once again on all parties to the conflict to end all attacks on water facilities, treatment systems, pipelines, infrastructure and personnel who repair water supply installations,” she concluded. 

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