Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 10:34 GMT

Syria's forgotten crisis: sanitation

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 2 July 2013
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Syria's forgotten crisis: sanitation, 2 July 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51d6bb684.html [accessed 24 August 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Bombs, clashes and airstrikes have killed at least 92,000 in Syria, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. But millions of people - and more still across the region - are at risk due to something much less discussed: sanitation.

Summer heat, shortages of clean water, a crumbling health system, breakdowns in waste management services, and overcrowded conditions in common shelters have led to a rise in potentially life-threatening diseases.

As summer temperatures rise, poor hygiene and sanitation are an increasing concern. The World Health Organization wrote last month: "outbreaks are inevitable."

Up to 8,000 Syrians leave every day, often for overcrowded camps in neighbouring countries. The scale of population movement means that the threat is not just confined to Syria. Already, diseases have appeared in Turkey and Jordan that had not been seen for years, if not decades, before the Syrian crisis.

"The international community must now seriously view the ever worsening humanitarian and health situation as a threat to regional security and their own national interests," public health doctors Adam Coutts and Fouad M. Fouad wrote in The Lancet medical journal on 29 June.

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