A lack of safe water is far deadlier for children than war in more than a dozen conflict-affected countries, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday, in a report launched to coincide with World Water Day, marked on 22 March.
UNICEF’s 16-nation study into how water supplies effect children caught up in emergencies, also shows that children under-five are on average more than 20 times more likely to die from illnesses linked to unsafe water and bad sanitation, than from conflict.
“The odds are already stacked against children living through prolonged conflicts – with many unable to reach a safe water source,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The reality is that there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets."
According to the report, every year, 85,700 children under-15 die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH), compared with 30,900 from conflict. Some 72,000 under-fives die annually from similar illnesses linked to WASH-access problems, compared to 3,400 from war-related violence.
UNICEF studied data from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen… (UN, March 21, 2019)