Military action on and around water infrastructure jeopardizes efforts to prevent another outbreak of cholera in Yemen
Residents fill their containers with water at outdoor taps in Sana’a. (Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0870/Hamoud)
Statement attributable to Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa
AMMAN, 17 April 2018 – “Yemen continues to be one of the world’s most water-scarce countries. Access to drinking water is extremely costly for the most vulnerable people: 8.6 million children in Yemen don’t have sufficient access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“Since 2015, the escalation of conflict has only exacerbated this already dire situation, with attacks and military action on and around water infrastructure cutting off even more people from access to safe drinking water.
“Earlier this week, the Al-Hamazat water system in the Sehar district in Sa’ada governorate was completely destroyed in an attack that left 7,500 people, including internally displaced families, without water. During the attack, the nearby solar energy system which provides power to the water system was also severely damaged. The same water system came under attack and was destroyed in 2015. UNICEF rebuilt it in 2017.
“At the same time, armed groups have launched military attacks from sites close to water points.
“Access to clean water is especially critical to prevent waterborne diseases from spreading further in the war-torn country. Last year, Yemen had the biggest outbreak of cholera/acute watery diarrhea in the world and the likelihood of another outbreak looms if access to water continues to be jeopardized.
“UNICEF is calling on all parties to the conflict wherever they are in Yemen and those who have influence over them to protect basic civilian infrastructure. In line with international humanitarian law, all parties to the conflict should immediately stop attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure and any military activities near or from these facilities including schools, hospitals, water facilities and keep children out of harm’s way.