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Red Cross: Urgent action needed in NW Syria to prevent collapse of water systems

March 6, 2023 at 9:39 am

Syrian children, who took shelter in the camp after escaping the attacks of the Bashar al-Assad regime, fill plastic bottles with water at a refugee camp in, Syria on August 04, 2022 [Izzeddin Kasim/Anadolu Agency]

The Red Cross has warned that urgent action is needed to prevent the collapse of water systems in northwest Syria following the deadly earthquakes that hit the country on 6 February.

Nearly 6,000 people were killed in northwest Syria and thousands more injured when twin earthquakes hit the border region along with southern Turkiye.

Direct damage to the infrastructure has increased the risk that contaminated water could pollute the supply, says the international organisation, especially since the water system has already been affected by 12 years of conflict.

Part of Aleppo’s sewage system has collapsed and water tanks on roofs of houses were destroyed during the earthquakes, heightening the risk of infectious diseases.

Over five million people have been made homeless across Syria after the quakes, which has meant more and more people are relying on the same water system.

The Red Cross has said that in one temporary shelter in Aleppo 850 people are sharing seven toilets.

WATCH: Survivor in NW Syria: ‘I watched my house collapse and kill my entire family’

Lack of clean water and sanitary toilets has led to children suffering acute gastroenteritis.

Only 50 per cent of water and sanitation systems are properly functioning in the country.

By 1 March, two people had died of cholera in northwest Syria after the earthquakes due to damaged health and water infrastructure and sewage lines.

The United Nations Security Council said that the outbreak had been worsened by severe shortages of clean water across the country.

Since the outbreak began last year, 22 people have died from cholera. Over 6,000 cases were recorded in February alone.

Towards the end of February, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) made an urgent call for assistance for people in northwest Syria.

The charity called for an immediate upscale in assistance, including shelters, water, sanitation equipment and medical supplies.