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Briefing note

UNICEF repairing sewers, collecting garbage for the well-being of Iraqi children

Statement attributable to Geoff Keele, UNICEF spokesperson


Read Carol Bellamy's 20 March statement

12 June UNICEF repairing sewers, collecting garbage for the well-being of Iraqi children
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• Access more information about the children of Iraq at UNICEF's online Iraq Press Room

• UNICEF's professional photos are available to qualified publications. Write photo@unicef.org

BAGHDAD, 12 June 2003 - In an effort to prevent the spread of disease among children, UNICEF has been sending out teams of workers across Baghdad to fix blocked sewage lines and to clean up the piles of refuse building up in many areas of the capital.

So far, UNICEF has unblocked the sewage drains in Karada, Al-Rasheed, Al-Obaidi, and Al-Huriya. All of these areas had been suffering from severe flooding with lakes of raw sewage flowing through streets, school and homes.

UNICEF has managed to rid these four areas of the raw sewage that was a constant risk to children’s health. A total of 1.5 million people are now living in much safer, cleaner homes and neighbourhoods.

UNICEF is now in the process of tackling this problem in other parts of Baghdad. We will also be sending out teams to check for blocks throughout the Baghdad municipal sewage system to prevent other areas from being contaminated with sewage in the future.

However, the blocks are only part of the problem. The Sewage Pumping Stations that draw the sewage out of neighbourhoods are also in desperate need of repair. At present, Baghdad has 256 pumping stations, most of which are only partially functioning. UNICEF is currently repairing 28 of these pumping stations with plans for many more in the coming weeks and months.

Another problem that leads to blockages in the sewage drains is the lack of garbage collection in Iraq. People are dumping their refuse into the drains creating blocks. To help in this area, UNICEF has been collecting garbage in municipalities across Baghdad. UNICEF has also joined forces with other UN agencies and NGOs to do similar work in Basra. In Al-Thawra, UNICEF contractors are removing the large piles of rubbish in the streets to lower the contamination levels in the area, and will begin household collection as well to benefit 2.5 million people.

While UNICEF supported garbage collection is currently going on in these cities, there is a need to effectively deal with this problem in other municipalities across Iraq. UNICEF will be meeting with the Director General of the Directorate of Municipalities today to finalize plans to undertake garbage collection in all major urban areas.

This endeavour will go on for a one month period and cost a minimum of US $1.5 million.


For more information on UNICEF activities in the areas of child Health, Nutrition, Water, Education, Sanitation and Child Protection, please contact

Geoffrey Keele, at UNICEF Iraq, (Sat.) 873-762-86-9918, (Th.) 882-165-420-1806, gkeele@unicef.org

For interviews in the region, write or call directly to the UNICEF NewsDesk in Amman:

(962-79) 50422058

UNICEF has video footage from inside Iraq, topics include health, nutrition, education, and access to water and relief supplies being packed at UNICEF's global warehouse . For a Beta copy of the b-roll, along with shot descriptions.