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Briefing note

24 March 2003: What UNICEF said at the UN briefing

"... in Basra there is the very real possibility now of child deaths, from the conflict, but also from diarrhoea and dehydration. We estimate that at least 100,000 children under the age of five are at risk. "

Links

Read Carol Bellamy's 20 March statement

12 June UNICEF repairing sewers, collecting garbage for the well-being of Iraqi children
8 June
Diarrheoa, typhoid among threats to Iraq children

2 May War is over, but the battle to protect Iraq’s children is far from won

1 May What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
1 May News flash: Top UNICEF official returns to Iraq


UNICEF Iran convoys food, supplies to Baghdad 30 April

With chlorine supplies dwindling, Iraqi children face onslaught of water-borne diseases 29 Apri l

28 April What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
27 April
22 April 2003 What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
23 April International Staff re-enter Iraq
22 April 2003 What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
21 April 2003
20 April 2003
17 April 2003
16 April 2003
more ...

• 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

Briefing by Geoff Keele, UNICEF Communication Officer, IRAQ

UNICEF staff in Iraq were at work today focusing on the urgent need for clean water in city hospitals across Baghdad.

The importance of access to clean water is very much in the forefront of UNICEF action, as the lead agency for water in this emergency.

Frequent power cuts and the consequent cutting of water supplies to Iraq's second biggest city, Basra, is of considerable concern to UNICEF. This is the third day that reports say Basra has had limited water. The Wafa Al-Quaid water treatment plant provides 40 per cent of Basra's water needs, and feeds the Al Zubair Hospital. Currently, the plant is only partially functioning.

There must now be a threat of disease as tens of thousands of people in their homes, hospitals and care institutions attempt to cope and find what water they can from the river and other sources. Unfortunately the river is also where sewage is dumped.

UNICEF has repeatedly warned that bad water costs lives, especially among the most vulnerable, and the children of Iraq are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Not only are they suffering from high malnutrition rates, in Basra there is the very real possibility now of child deaths, from the conflict, but also from diarrhoea and dehydration. We estimate that at least 100,000 children under the age of five are at risk.

UNICEF is currently looking at ways to provide emergency water provision as soon as conditions allow.

Over the past few years UNICEF has completely rehabilitated 37 water treatment plants, 23 compact water treatment units, ten sewerage facilities, benefiting 8.6 million people. These activities also included one of the main water treatment and sewage plants in Basra.

Today in Baghdad the UNICEF team has had talks with other agencies to look at priorities for action. One of the areas identified is the urgent need for emergency water tanks at city hospitals.

###

For further information please contact us:.

Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF Iraq: gkeele@unicef.org
(962-6) 551-5921 ext. 126
(cell +962-79)692-6191
Anis Salem, UNICEF Amman: asalem@unicef.org
(+962-6) 553-9977
Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF Geneva: wbelmonte@unicef.org,
(+41-79) 909-5509
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF New York, aironside@unicef.org
(+1-212) 326-7261

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

(962-79) 50422058
iraqichild@unicef.org

Broadcasters!
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.