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[casi] Basra's Water Supply Crisis - Infrastructure's Importance (Urls Provided)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports Basra, Iraq's
second largest city (population over 1 million people), is experiencing a
water supply crisis.  According to the ICRC, relevant electricity cables
have been rendered inoperable.  It's unclear which party is responsible for
the electricity sector damage and whether the damage was intentional.

Below are relevant urls.

It's worth recalling damage (deliberate (1) and illegal (2)) to Iraq's
electricity and water and sanitation sector (3) gave rise to the public
health disaster that followed the 1991 Gulf War. (4)

The UN predicts if there is "degradation of infrastructure in general, and
electricity in particular, on which the provision of the services concerned
are heavily dependent on, many of these services are not likely to be
available following a conflict." (5)  If the "electricity network [is]
seriously degraded because of damage to generating plants and the
transmission and distribution networks[,] then [t]he damage to the
electricity network will also result in collateral reductions in capacity in
all sectors, particularly water and sanitation as well as health." (6)

"[T]he collapse of essential services in Iraq ... could lead to a
humanitarian emergency of proportions well beyond the capacity of UN
agencies and other aid organizations". (7)

If there is such a collapse, particularly an infrastructural one, then "the
outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions is very likely.
Diseases such as cholera and dysentery [will] thrive in the environment".


BBC Url:

Guardian Url:,1321,920934,00.html

Reuters Url:;jsessionid=I2N5VJ44Z24NSCRBAEOCFFA?type=worldNews&storyID=2437479

1. Barton Gellman, "Allied Air War Struck Broadly in Iraq", Washington Post,
23 June 1991
2. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and
relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts
(Protocol I), 8 June 1977,,
especially art. 54 and 56.
3. Report to the Secretary-General on Humanitarian Needs in Kuwait and Iraq
in the Immediate Post-Crisis Environment by a Mission to the Area Led by Mr.
Martti Ahtisaari, Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management,
Annex S/22366, 20 March 1991, para. 21 and 24, and Report to the
Secretary-General Dated 15 July 1991 on Humanitarian Needs in Iraq Prepared
by a Mission Led by Sadruddin Aga Khan, Executive Delegate of the
Secretary-General, Annex S/22799, 17 July 1991, para. 16, 18 and 20, and and "Electrical Facilities
Survey" and "Water and Wastewater Systems' Survey" in International Study
Team, "Health and Welfare in Iraq
after the Gulf War: An In-Depth Assessment", October 1991,
4. "Health and Welfare in Iraq after the Gulf War: An In-Depth Assessment",
October 1991,
5. UN, "Likely Humanitarian Scenarios", 10 December 2002, para. 4,
6. UN, "Likely Humanitarian Scenarios", 10 December 2002, para. 5,
7. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), "Integrated
Humanitarian Contingency Plan for Iraq and Neighbouring Countries",
confidential draft, 7 January 2003, pg. 4,
8. UN, "Likely Humanitarian Scenarios", 10 December 2002, para. 25,

Nathaniel Hurd
NGO Consultant on United Nations' Iraq policy
Tel. (Mobile): 917-407-3389
Fax: 718-504-4224
Residential/Mailing Address:
90 7th Ave.
Apt. #6
Brooklyn, NY  11217

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