Mohammad and his school book. Rami Nader/Syria/2017.
In December 2016 the people of Damascus woke to find themselves without access to safe water. An attack on the two main water springs in the area had left 5.5 million people without clean water and at risk of water borne diseases like cholera.
“In Syria, water has been used as a weapon of war by all parties to the conflict,” explains Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Syria. “Water sources have been deliberately shut off, water infrastructure has been attacked and damaged, and water workers were denied access to maintain, repair, and operate water networks.”
Making things worse was the city’s main sewage system which now began to clogg up. For children like Mohammad and his mother Kawthar this became a nightmare when the system failed and flooded, backing up toxic sewage onto the front of their house.
Two weeks ago, UNICEF fixed the sewer system in Mohammad’s neighbourhood reducing the risk of disease and allowing Mohammad to safely leave the house. UNICEF has also repaired the water system to the springs, greatly improving the water quality for the 5.5 million people in Damascus.
Children in Syria are facing a desperate situation. Six million children need help but despite this and the volume of struggles they face, children like Mohammad have not given up. He dreams of being an accountant as his favourite class is Maths.
“UNICEF’s work is more urgent than ever to support children to realise their dreams,” says Singer. “More importantly, Syrian children and their families have one wish – to return to their homes and to live in peace and dignity, and we must provide them with the opportunity to do just that.”
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