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UNICEF: children in war torn countries have right to safe water

[JURIST] The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) [official website] voiced [press release] its concerns on Tuesday regarding the lack of drinking water accessible to children in war torn countries. According to UNICEF, more than 180 million people are cut off [UN News Centre report] from water in countries of conflict including Yemen, Syria and Nigeria. Generally, inhabitants of these countries are four times more likely to lack safe water than people in other countries. In such countries, UNICEF reports that water sources are either contaminated, in disrepair, or even deliberately destroyed as an act of war. Sanjay Wijesekera [official profile], UICEF's chief of water, sanitation and hygiene, stressed that children's access to safe water must be prioritized and considered a right rather than a privilege. Morevore, Wijesekera noted the consequential rise of malnutrition and fatal diseases such as cholera and acute watery diarrhoea. In countries struck by famine, 14.6 million children urgently require drinkable water, over 5 million are malnourished, and 1.4 million may be considered severe cases. The UN is expected to continue discussing water issues during the ongoing World Water Week [official website] being held in Stockholm, Sweden.

The international community continues its efforts to protect the rights of children worldwide. Earlier this month, the El Salvador Legislative Assembly unanimously voted [JURIST report] to eliminate a law that allowed men to marry minors that they had impregnated. Also this month, a group of UN experts for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged [JURIST report] the government of the Philippines to address reports of human rights violations that include threats against indigenous people, murder and the summary execution of children. Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued an expansive report [JURIST report] calling for a "moratorium" on surgeries designed to "normalize" intersex children, those who are "are born with chromosomes, gonads, sex organs, or genitalia that differ from those seen as socially typical for boys and girls." HRW also stated in June that millions of pregnant and married girls across Africa are being denied education due to discriminatory policies [JURIST report]. In March, UNICEF announced [JURIST report] an increased risk of abuse of migrant women and children along the central Mediterranean trade route.

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