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Severe shortage of clean water in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus

BEIRUT | - October 05, 2014, 07h33
"We are deeply concerned by a severe shortage of clean water in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus," UNRWA spokesperson, Chris Gunness, stated on Saturday.
Since the first week of September, the mains water supply has been disrupted, apparently as a result of damage to pipes in a contested area inside Yarmouk. Drought conditions have forced Yarmouk's 18,000 civilian residents to rely on untreated groundwater and a single well, Chris Gunness explained. The UN agency's spokesperson added that these water sources are unsafe and insufficient to meet minimum water and sanitation needs.

Yarmouk's civilians now contend with the threats of acute dehydration, poor sanitation and communicable and water-borne diseases. This is in addition to worsening food insecurity and other dire humanitarian conditions caused by armed conflict and the closure of Yarmouk in mid-2013.

Yarmouk experienced a major outbreak of typhoid in July 2014 that was only contained through the rapid intervention of UNRWA health staff working in cooperation with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

The supply of clean, pipe-borne water to Yarmoukmust be urgently restored and maintained to prevent further outbreaks of communicable disease. Such outbreaks would have grave consequences for civilians in Yarmouk and threaten surrounding areas of Damascus, the UN agency warned.

UNRWA is liaising with Syrian authorities to re-establish the supply of safe water in Yarmouk, and is also benefiting from the technical support of UNICEF, WHO, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian partners.

"UNRWA maintains its demands that parties to the conflict desist from conducting hostilities in civilian areas and that full, safe and continuous humanitarian access must be granted to Yarmouk and other conflict-affected Palestine refugee communities," Chris Gunness said.

"The human rights of Palestine refugees, including those related to equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation, must be safeguarded. These demands must be heeded to bring to an end to the extreme civilian suffering in Yarmouk and elsewhere in Syria," he concluded.
#Yarmouk, #Syria, #Palestinian_refugees, #UNRWA, #UN
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