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Disruption Of Water, Sanitation Services Threaten Health In Syria; Conflict Causes Surge In Number Of Syrian Refugees

“The severe disruption of water and sanitation services and a lack of access to basic hygiene in Syria have increased the risk of waterborne diseases among children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) [warned Friday], following a nationwide assessment,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agency found that in areas affected by the conflict, water supplies are only available at one-third of pre-crisis levels, with many people having only 25 liters of water a day, compared with 75 liters when the conflict began two years ago,” the news service writes. “More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011,” and “[r]ecent months have witnessed an escalation in the conflict, which has also left more than four million people in need of humanitarian assistance,” according to the news service (2/8).

“Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration is evaluating ways to reduce the bloodshed in Syria,” Bloomberg Businessweek notes, adding that Kerry said, “There is too much killing, there’s too much violence, and we obviously want to try to find a way forward” (Atlas/Gaouette, 2/8). “Syria’s conflict is now driving 5,000 people out of the country each day in an increasingly desperate scramble for safety, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday as it reported a surge in their numbers to nearly 800,000,” the New York Times writes (Bruce/Gladstone, 2/8). In related news, “The Lebanese government and U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) say they are trying to scale up their assistance to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees but are hampered by a lack of funds,” IRIN reports, adding, “On 7 February Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report, entitled ‘Misery Beyond the War Zone,’ which painted an alarming picture of the living and health conditions of refugees in Lebanon and called on both the U.N. and the government to increase registration and aid” (2/8).