As violence worsens in Aleppo, Oxfam is working to keep Syrians healthy and safe

By Oxfam
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When Pablo Tosco, an independent photographer at the time, first saw this boy in Aleppo, Syria, in February 2013, he thought it was a sign of hope: a child looking skyward. Only later did he realize that the boy’s glance upward was a cautionary one. The day was cloudy, and therefore somewhat safe for people to be out knowing that poor visibility meant the air raids would stop. Pablo Tosco

The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate after a failed ceasefire, and Oxfam is working to restore safe water and ensure that people can access sanitation and hygiene supplies. 

Since the conflict began in March 2011, more than 400,000 lives have been lost in Syria. Today, the situation in the country continues to deteriorate.  There are over 13.5 million people affected by the conflict and in need of humanitarian aid, including 6.1 million people within Syria who have been internally displaced from their homes.

The residents of Aleppo are experiencing the brunt of the violence, with constant airstrikes in the last several days. After a ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia ended, Russian, Syrian and allied forces launched an offensive to recapture the opposition-held part of Aleppo. Over one hundred people have died in the last several days, and the water supply has been damaged and cut off, leaving residents to rely on unsafe water from the Qwaik River and wells. While some water access has been restored, the damage is still being assessed and repaired in some cases. Oxfam is working with the local water establishment to identify how to quickly remove rubble and get another water pumping station functioning again. We are also looking for other ways to deliver clean water like bringing it in by truck to East and West Aleppo, and providing water tanks and jerry cans to people in Aleppo and those nearby.

Oxfam has also worked to help ensure that residents in and near Aleppo can stay healthy by installing four latrine kits in a public park where many IDPs had settled without any access to sanitation facilities, and we are looking to see if more are needed.

Oxfam is also focused on ensuring that affected people in both East and West Aleppo have adequate access to hygiene items. Sadly, the ongoing violence is preventing supplies, like 12,500 family hygiene kits, from being delivered to those in dire need, as they remain stored in warehouses until there is safe access. Oxfam is planning to provide another 7,000 family hygiene kits to be delivered in West Aleppo, as well.

Majd, 26 years old in West Aleppo, said “Water shortages, power cuts, mortars, death, inflation, fighting, bombing. This is our daily life. To leave or to stay is a question I ask myself every day. People are dying a few kilometers away and the situation is depressing. We want this conflict to be over. I didn’t want to leave the country because if we left, who will rebuild it? Who will take care of the wounded? Who will keep Syria strong and help it recover? Now I have lost hope and I am packing my bags.”

Oxfam has been working in Aleppo providing water purification units, water tanks in schools, equipping wells and connecting them to water networks and water collection points. Across Syria, we are focusing on rehabilitating the water infrastructure, including repairing wells. 

We are planning to provide clean water to 1.5 million people and working on public health promotion, solid waste management and supporting livelihoods.

Oxfam calls for an immediate and complete ceasefire in Aleppo and for humanitarian organizations to have access to deliver desperately needed aid. Oxfam urges all warring parties to uphold international humanitarian law and make sure that civilians and civilian infrastructure, including water services, are not targeted, and that water, electricity and other basic services are not used as a weapon of war.


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