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Iraq: Water supply partly re-established in Basra

26-03-2003 News Release 03/21

Geneva (ICRC) – Iraqi water technicians and staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have managed to partially restart the main water pumping facility serving the city of Basra in southern Iraq.

The ICRC estimates that 50 per cent of the city's approximately 1.5 million inhabitants now have access to drinking water. This latest development will also considerably improve the quality of the drinking water available to the people of Basra.

Technicians from the Basra Directorate of Water and ICRC engineers managed to start up three out of six back-up generators at Wafa'Al-Qaed pumping station. The station had not been operating since last Friday when electricity was cut off. However, a number of spare parts are still needed before it will be possible to start the three remaining back-up generators. The ICRC and local technicians are continuing their efforts to get the pumping station running normally again.

The ICRC remains concerned about the situation in other urban centres south of Basra that have been disconnected from the water-supply network since last Friday. These include Al-Zubayr, Safwan and Jabjud. It has so far not been possible to carry out repair work in these areas.

The repair work at Wafa'Al-Qaed became possible after the ICRC contacted all parties to the conflict in Iraq to obtain security assurances for its staff and the technicians of the Basra water board. The ICRC carried out the work with the full support and cooperation of the parties to the conflict.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 29 30  

 Nada Doumani, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 27 56