BAGHDAD, March 24 (UPI) -- As many as 1 million children in Iraq get drinking water from open sources that may be contaminated with raw sewage, a UNICEF official said.
Aoun Dhiab, the Iraqi director of water resources, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Iraq bureau that water flow through the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is at a trickle because Turkey and Syria aren't releasing enough water to the country.
He said Iraq needs at least 17,600 cubic feet of water to flow into the Euphrates every second but gets slightly more than half that amount. Unless Turkey and Syria decide to release more water, he said, the summer growing season is in jeopardy.
Salam Abdel Munim, a spokesman for UNICEF in Iraq, told the news agency that water shortages in the main Iraqi waterways meant children have to get water from potentially contaminated tributaries.
"Some 500,000 Iraqi children access their water from a river or stream and another 500,000 access their water from open wells," he was quoted as saying.
The UNICEF spokesman added water-borne illnesses like diarrhea are the second-largest killer of Iraqi children.