UNICEF warns of water crisis in Lebanon

BEIRUT — Unless emergency actions are taken, more than 4 million people in Lebanon will face severe water shortages or be completely cut off from the supply of safe drinking water in the coming days, according to the Executive Director of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Henrietta H. Fore.

Fore referred to a previous warning issued by UNICEF last month that more than 71% of the population of Lebanon may not have access to water this summer.

“Since last July, essential services including water, sanitation, energy networks and health care have come under enormous pressure,” she added, indicating that vital facilities, such as hospitals and health centers have been deprived of safe water due to lack of electricity, putting lives at risk.

“If 4 million people are forced to resort to unsafe and expensive sources of water, health and hygiene will be in danger, and Lebanon may witness an increase in waterborne diseases, in addition to increased COVID-19 cases.”

Fore called for urgent restoration of energy supplies, stressing that it is the only solution to continued water services.

“The needs are enormous, and the urgent formation of a new government with clear commitments to reform is critical to addressing the current crisis, through resolute and systematic measures to protect children’s lives and ensure access to water and all basic services.