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World Water Day: ICRC supplies 11 million people

21-03-2006 News Release 06/20

Geneva (ICRC) – A full third of the world's population lack adequate sanitation and one billion individuals – most of them in Asia and Africa – have no safe water to drink.

On the occasion of World Water Day, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reaffirms its commitment to ensuring greater access to safe drinking water and sanitation for the victims of armed conflict. Over 800 ICRC engineers and technicians worked throughout 2005 to provide 11 million war victims in 37 countries with water and improved sanitation – both top priorities in conflict zones, as access to decent sanitation and safe water greatly reduces the spread of water-related diseases.

The ICRC focuses on communities affected by armed conflict. In many cases the ravages of war are exacerbated by poverty and underdevelopment. Some 300 million people in war-torn countries continue to lack safe water, and 450 million go without appropriate sanitation. In its water projects the ICRC strives to work closely with the local people and makes water and sanitation part of its broader aim of improving public health. When disaster strikes, the organization endeavours to bridge the gap until essential services can be restored.

International humanitarian law (the law of war) prohibits attacks on anything indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. Such things include drinking-water installations and irrigation works. Violating these rules can have a disastrous effect on the health and living conditions of people already suffering the scourge of war.


  For further information, please contact:
  Riccardo Conti, ICRC Geneva (representative at 4th World Water Forum in Mexico), tel: +41 79 217 32 75
  Evaristo Oliveira, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 85 or +41 79 823 51 65
  Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17