“This water is good, really good. And I don’t have to go to other neighborhoods anymore to fetch water from a borehole”, Basma* tells us.
Basma is wiser beyond her years. She lives with her parents, grandmother and two younger brothers. They stayed in Harasta during the conflict in Eastern Ghouta. For the last three years, Basma and her grandmother had to walk for over half an hour during the crisis just to reach the nearest borehole to fetch water for the family. The water at the borehole was contaminated and at some point, her brother contracted typhoid.
Lack of access to safe drinking water is among the most common challenges faced by civilians who had to flee violence to find shelter for their families. They often live in unsanitary, precarious conditions. And the lack of clean water had caused a spike in the number of typhoid, measles and bloody diarrhea cases last year.
What changed Basma’s life was a project run byTriangle Generation Humanitaire (TGH), funded by the Syria Humanitarian Fund. TGH is an international solidarity association focused on the implementation of emergency, rehabilitation and development programs in the field of water, hygiene and sanitation, among others. By trucking water to fill up community water tanks with safe-drinking water in Eastern Ghouta towns and villages, TGH reached some 87,000 people who finally have direct access to clean, potable water.
Displaced people and returnees are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases due to unsanitary living conditions, poor nutrition, exposure to the elements and low coverage of routine immunization.
As the Syria crisis enters its ninth year, an estimated 11.7 million people need humanitarian assistance but a shocking 15.5 million people across the country are in dire need of water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. Of those, 6.2 million are in acute need. Widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure has increased people’s vulnerability. Water services, energy, sewage and solid waste management are among basic services and infrastructure that need to be re-established.
Last year saw a 16 per cent increase in the number of displaced people in last resorts sites and more than 8 in 10 people in Syria live below poverty line. People’s coping mechanisms are depleted, and families are faced with hard choices to put food on the table, a roof over their heads, keeping their kids warm or sending them to school.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the launch by UN agencies and partners of the three-year Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for Internally Displaced People, which was adopted on the 20th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (GP20).
Tens of millions of people around the world have been driven out of their homes by war, hunger, earthquakes and other perils. Among the most vulnerable, are 40 million people who have been forced to flee, but never crossed a border. Lacking special protection in their darkest hour of need, these largely unnoticed women, men and children may have fled their homes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. They often urgently need essential necessities such as shelter, food and clean water, while stripped of their rights and basic protections.
To draw the world’s attention to the Plight of World’s 40 Million Internally Displaced People, OCHA has launched an innovative YouTube campaign, ‘Unavailable Content’, in collaboration with Ogilvy. The campaign is at the heart of OCHA’s Invisible Citizens Week, which is dedicated to shining a spotlight on this resilient yet vulnerable group of people.