Dirty water ‘more dangerous to children than violence’

A child carries a bottle filed with the water of the well in the popular district of Yopougon, where inhabitants lack of of drinking water, in Abidjan, on March 21, 2019 a day before the World Water Day celebrations. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2019

Dirty water ‘more dangerous to children than violence’

  • The UNICEF report noted a few exceptions, saying children under 15 in Iraq and Syria were more likely to die of violence, as were children under age 5 in Syria and Libya

NEW YORK: Children under age 15 are almost three times more likely to die from diseases due to lack of clean water and sanitation than from violence in countries in conflict, the United Nations’ children’s agency reported on Friday.
Most vulnerable are young children under age five, who are 20 times more likely to die from diseases than violence, said the report by UNICEF, released to coincide with World Water Day.
Specifically, children die of diarrhea-related illness, such as cholera, when conflict restricts access to clean water, it said.
The research looked at the health consequences of unsafe water and sanitation for children in 16 countries undergoing conflict, including Myanmar, Afghanistan and Yemen.
“In these conflicts — and other emergencies — providing rapid, comprehensive and safe water and sanitation is a matter of life and death,” said the report.
UNICEF reported 85,000 diarrheal deaths due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene in children from 2014 to 2016, compared with just under 31,000 deaths due to violence, citing World Health Organization (WHO) data.
“It isn’t surprising,” Tomas Jensen, adviser for tropical medicine at the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“They are often the ones at greatest risk, especially young children who haven’t built up immunity to bacteria that can cause diarrheal disease,” he said.
Diarrhea-related illness is the second leading cause of death for all children under 5, depleting body fluids and causing dehydration, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Particularly vulnerable to dehydration are children and infants, who lose fluids more quickly than adults and are less able to communicate their needs, experts say.
In conflict, journeying to a water source may carry the risk of being shot or sexually assaulted, the report said.
Water might become contaminated, its sources destroyed or residents may be denied access, it said.
In Yemen, a third of the cases were children under age 5, according to WHO.
The UNICEF report noted a few exceptions, saying children under 15 in Iraq and Syria were more likely to die of violence, as were children under age 5 in Syria and Libya.
Methods of warfare in those countries, such as aerial bombing of urban areas, land mines and unexploded ordnance put children at high risk, a UNICEF spokesman said.


US will not accept North Korea-set nuclear deadline, top envoy says

Updated 16 min 59 sec ago

US will not accept North Korea-set nuclear deadline, top envoy says

  • ‘On this point, let me be absolutely clear: The United States does not have a deadline’
  • Senior North Korean officials have recently said denuclearization is already off the negotiating table

SEOUL, South Korea: A senior US diplomat said Monday that Washington won’t accept a year-end deadline set by North Korea to make concessions in stalled nuclear talks and urged Pyongyang to return to a negotiating table immediately.
“On this point, let me be absolutely clear: The United States does not have a deadline,” Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, told reporters. “We are fully aware of the strong potential for North Korea to conduct a major provocation in the days ahead. To say the least, such an action will be most unhelpful in achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Biegun, who was in Seoul for talks with South Korean officials, called on North Korea to sit down for talks.
“Let me speak directly to our counterparts in North Korea: It is time for us to do our jobs. Let’s get this done. We are here. And you know how to reach us,” he said.
Biegun later held separate meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, Seoul’s point man on North Korea. Moon’s office said that during his visit to the presidential Blue House, Biegun said the Trump administration wouldn’t give up on seeking diplomatic progress with North Korea, but it did not elaborate further.
It’s unclear if North Korea will reach out to the US to resolve their widening differences on how to achieve North Korean denuclearization.
Senior North Korean officials have recently said denuclearization is already off the negotiating table and have threatened to lift a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests. In past months, North Korea has also conducted a slew of short-range missile and other weapons tests.
Worries about a major North Korean provocation grew after the country said Saturday that it had successfully performed an unspecified “crucial test” that will strengthen its nuclear deterrent. Experts say the North could launch a satellite-carrying rocket or an intercontinental ballistic missile if the US fails to meet the year-end deadline.
Friday’s test was the second in a week at a rocket facility where North Korea has conducted missile-engine tests and launched satellites in what the UN called cover for testing its long-range missile technology.
North Korea’s military chief, Pak Jong Chon, asserted Saturday that the North has built up “tremendous power” and that the findings from the recent tests would be used to develop new weapons to allow the country to “definitely and reliably” counter US nuclear threats.
The test-flight of an ICBM would likely completely derail diplomatic efforts as President Donald Trump has viewed the North Korean weapons test moratorium as a major foreign policy achievement.
Biegun called the latest North Korean statements “so hostile and negative and so unnecessary.” He said they don’t reflect the spirit and content of the discussions the two countries have had since the North entered talks with the US last year.
He said the United States has offered “any number of creative ways to proceed with feasible steps and flexibility in our negotiations to reach balanced agreements that meet the objectives of both sides.”