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UN expert urges restoration of water supply cut off by explosion in Iraq

UN expert urges restoration of water supply cut off by explosion in Iraq

An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on Iraqi authorities to restore the water supply to more than 20,000 people having to endure water and food shortages since an explosion last month at a local pumping station.

Jean Ziegler, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, issued a statement voicing deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ashraf City/Camp Ashraf and surrounds since the explosion on 8 February at nearby Zorganieh.

He said locals were now experiencing water and food shortages that had been made more critical by the increasingly hot weather in the region.

Mr. Ziegler said he had received reports that the explosion may have been intended to deepen the pressure on an estimated 3,000 members of a militia known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) that have been confined in Camp Ashraf.

Under an agreement signed by Iraqi authorities and the PMOI in 2003, the camp remains under the control of the Multi-National Force (MNF) in Iraq and in 2004 the United States recognized PMOI members as protected persons under the Geneva conventions.

In his statement the Special Rapporteur emphasized that the rights to food and drinking water are protected under international human rights law.

“The Iraqi authorities have failed to protect the inhabitants of Ashraf City and its surrounding area from the actions of third parties, which are impeding enjoyment of the rights to food and water and creating a critical humanitarian situation.

“The competent authorities must restore urgently the water supply to all the inhabitants of the region affected by the explosion in the water pumping station [and] the affected population must be protected from violation of their rights by third parties.

“I call on the Iraqi authorities to take immediate measures to guarantee the rights to food and water of the inhabitants of Ashraf City/Camp Ashraf and its surrounding area.”