Red Cross says water supplies critical in Basra

25 March 2003
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement on 24 March that water supplies in Basra remain 'critical' despite action taken over the weekend to restore clean water supplies to the city, which has a population estimated to have a population of 1.2 million-1.7 million people.

The ICRC said there was a total cut-off of all water treatment facilities on the afternoon of 21 March due to a failure of the power supply system. The ICRC team managed on the afternoon of 22 March to restore clean water supplies to 40 per cent of the city. 'Working jointly with the staff of the water board of Basra, ICRC engineers and technicians were able to reconnect several water treatment plants to the Shatt al-Arab river and to operate the back-up generators of these plants,' the ICRC said.

'Despite these interventions, the situation remains critical as the provisional water distribution networks only partially and temporarily cover the needs of - Basra,' the committee said. 'Therefore, demarches are underway with all warring parties to obtain access to the main water station in Wafaa Al-Qaid, north of Basra. The aim is to try and repair the regular water treatment and supply lines for Basra.'

The ICRC said it is concerned that further damage to power stations or high-voltage transmission cables will disrupt the operation of water production, which will have a direct impact on the overall health of the population.

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