Syria's humanitarian crisis worsens as millions left without clean drinking water

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released a new warning about the humanitarian situation in Syria. According to OCHA, it has been increasingly difficult in recent weeks to deliver aid to besieged areas of Syria. The last UN convoy to deliver aid into Syria was on 22nd May.

This comes after comments made by UN Deputy Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, about the difficulties in delivering aid. Only 267,000 out of a targeted one million people received UN aid in April and May. Of paramount concern has been East Ghouta, which has been suffering under the Syrian Regime’s siege since 2013.

The regime has consistently been accused of preventing aid from entering East Ghouta, confiscating food and arbitrarily depriving civilians of electricity and water. This tactic has exacerbated the suffering of civilians, especially during Ramadan.

In the rest of Syria, many people are in dire need of food and water, shelter, and medical help. According to OCHA, 13.5 million people are in need of aid and protection, with a further four million in need of shelter, and seven million in need of food.

As for medical concerns, 12.5 million are in need of some form of medical assistance given the damaging effects of war that are ravaging numerous areas of the country. This includes the lack of basic services such as water; OCHA has estimated that 80% of the population currently residing in Syria don’t have access to clean drinking water. In Daraa, residents have relied on drinking contaminated water following clashes between the regime and rebel forces, which have destroyed all infrastructure, particularly in the Daraa al-Balad area located in the city’s south.

Even large, relatively secure population centres such as Damascus and Latakia have not been devoid of issues. Water to Damascus was cut off at the start of the year following clashes between pro-government militia and rebel forces at the Ein al-Fijah water plant, the source of the capital’s supply, leaving approximately seven million people without water.

Image: UN