Beirut, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- Some 300,000 people, including 100,000 children, in Beirut do not have access to drinking water or sanitation services, the United Nations said Friday, three weeks after a massive explosion rocked the city’s port.
The explosion killed 182 people and wounded more than 6,000, as well as destroying large parts of the city, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
“The explosions compounded an already precarious situation in terms of access to safe water and sanitation in the greater Beirut area, he explosions compounded an already precarious situation in terms of access to safe water and sanitation in the greater Beirut area,” the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, said in a statement.
Unicef estimates that 130 buildings in the affected area have been “completely disconnected from the main water network”, while more than 500 have sustained damage to their water systems.
Most of the affected families lived in buildings with regular access to drinking water before the explosion, Unicef’s Olivier Thonet told Efe. “The infrastructure needs to be repaired and the water tanks need to be replaced,” he said.
Unicef said the situation was “particularly critical” for around 300,000 people, including 100,000 children, whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Aug. 4 blast.
“One of our immediate priorities was ensuring that children and families affected, as well as critical frontline responders, had access to safe water,” said Yukie Mokuo of Unicef Lebanon.
“Working with the relevant authorities and our partners we’ve been able to reach more than 6,650 children and their families, but there is so much more to do, and time is of the essence.”
The lack of access to safe and clean water is particularly serious given the global public health crisis “as a key prevention method is regular handwashing with soap and safe water,” Unicef said.
“As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, it is more critical than ever to ensure that children and families whose lives were turned upside down by the explosion have access to safe water and sanitation,” said Mokuo.
Before the explosion, the rate of infections in Lebanon was on the rise, and rates have surged in the aftermath.
Efforts to treat the rising number of coronavirus patients have been hampered by the fact that four of the city’s hospitals and half of its medical centers are out of service due to the blast. EFE-EPA