DAMASCUS, Syria, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Shipments of safe water supplies began flowing into Syria amid reports that water supply and quality were deteriorating, UNICEF said Monday.
"This shipment is very timely as supplies of chlorine in Syria have fallen dangerously low, making access to safe water challenging for many families," Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, the U.N. Children's Fund Representative in Syria, said in a release. "This puts the population -- and children especially -- at high risk of contracting diarrhea and other water-borne diseases."
UNICEF said the supplies would help more than 10 million people, about half of the country's population.
The first four trucks carrying 80 tons of sodium hypochlorite water chlorination supplies crossed from Jordan into Syria Sunday, heading for Aleppo, Hama, Idleb and Homs, U.N. officials said.
UNICEF, working with the technical department of the ministry of water resources and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, will deliver 1,000 tons of chlorine to cities and communities across all 14 governorates in Syria during the coming weeks.
U.N. officials also said the World Health Organization co-signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to provide $2.1 million worth of medicines, vaccines and medical equipment.
The United Nations estimates more than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. The violence has escalated recently, leaving more than 4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, officials said.