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Syria: more than 21,000 people receive drinking water in drought-affected north-east

15-03-2011 News Release 11/54

Damascus (ICRC/Syrian Arab Red Crescent) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have begun to distribute clean drinking water to vulnerable people in the drought-stricken Al-Hassakah governorate and in the neighbouring Deir Al-Zor and Al-Raqah governorates.

"More than 21,000 people are receiving monthly deliveries of water," announced Syrian Arab Red Crescent president Dr Abdelrahman al-Attar. "Thanks to this joint effort by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC and the authorities, their quality of life will improve considerably."

In recent years, drought has forced many people to leave the north-east of the country and settle in cities such as Damascus, Aleppo or Homs. "Providing clean drinking water to people living in the areas most affected helps them maintain their livelihoods and remain where they are," said Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC delegation in Damascus. "People in or near the remote village of Um Madf'a are now receiving water from a treatment unit installed by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Similar units set up in the villages of Mastur and Abu Hamdah are expected to be operating soon."

"Getting clean water for free means a lot to me and my family," said Abu Hassan, one of the beneficiaries. "My children are drinking safe water now. And I am less strained financially, as I had to pay for drinking water in the past."

Because the water currently available in boreholes is saline, it has to be treated to be made drinkable. The General Commission for the Management and Development of Al-Badia will be responsible for operating and maintaining treatment units. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, using five tanker trucks donated by the ICRC, is distributing drinking water from six treatment plants installed by the General Commission and by the General Establishment for Drinking and Waste Water.

Other ICRC activities intended to ensure that sufficient quantities of water are available include collecting rainwater in underground reservoirs, upgrading ponds for livestock watering, building wells and micro-dams for irrigation purposes and introducing modern irrigation techniques.

For further information, please contact:
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 333 90 34
Loubna Al-Joura, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, tel: +963 988 678 785 or +963 11 535 58 73
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18


Photos

A joint ICRC/Syrian Arab Red Crescent water distribution operation using tankers, in a remote area of Al-Hasakah governorate. 

A joint ICRC/Syrian Arab Red Crescent water distribution operation using tankers, in a remote area of Al-Hasakah governorate.
© ICRC / sy-e-00067

A Bedouin woman uses water from an ICRC/SARC water truck. 

A Bedouin woman uses water from an ICRC/SARC water truck.
© ICRC / sy-e-00068