Water systems attacked in Syria, with 250 thousand people who see the supply of water at risk.

Nicole Fraccaroli

It is the complaint of UNICEF, with a statement by Geert Cappelaere, Regional Director of UNICEF for the Middle East and North Africa: “Public services, fundamental for children, have been attacked in recent weeks following the fighting in the north West of Syria Part of this sad reality is the repeated attacks against water services, which cuts children and families out of the water as the summer temperatures increase “.

UNICEF confirms that eight water plants – three of which are supported by the same UN agency – in the Al-Ma’ra district, south of Idlib, have been attacked only in the last two months. These facilities provide drinking water to almost 250,000 people in the area. Among these facilities is the main water station in the area of Maaret An-Numan. “It was severely damaged, forcing families to rely on water transport for their daily needs. Water facilities are not an objective, they must be protected at all times. In line with international humanitarian law, all parties in conflict and those who exert an influence on them have the obligation to stop the attacks on water structures and all the civil infrastructures based in Syria, “concludes Cappelaere.

Events and realities as those that take place in Syria make us reflect about the role played by international humanitarian law, as a very specific field of international law, aimed at regulating a situation of conflict. The basic rule consists in the differentiation between combatants and civilians, and the latter ones are meant to be protected as much as possible from the hostilities. Moreover, it is prohibited to attack objects, goods and facilities necessary for their survival; to cause starvation and to employ methods or means of warfare which may not allow the distinction.

Currently, the Syrian situation is getting worst due to continued attacks that deteriorate the population, their life-style, together with their rights and fundamental freedoms. As a matter of fact, the Pope wrote a letter in his own hand to Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad to express his “deep concern” for the “humanitarian situation” in the Middle Eastern country, “with particular reference to the dramatic conditions of the civilian population in Idlib”. This letter clearly expresses the significant concern of Pope Francis and the Holy See for the humanitarian emergency situation in Syria, particularly in the province of Idlib where more than 3 million people live, including 1.3 million internally displaced persons, forced by the long conflict in Syria to find refuge in that area that had been declared demilitarized last year. Actually, according to international humanitarian law demilitarized zones can not be attacked.

All those concerns, claims, hopes and requests, are not political, but they have the humanitarian taste.

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