A convoy of water that has been waiting at the Iranian border for three days has finally made it into southern Iraq. Eleven trucks carrying 5,100 jerry cans each containing 20 litres of potable water crossed the Shalamcheh border between the two countries late on Friday morning.
Speaking from the Iranian capital, Tehran, a spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Marc Vergara, attributed the long delay to "bureaucracy".
It was now hoped that by Friday afternoon the convoy would make it to the Al-Faw Peninsula in southern Iraq, which has received no water assistance since war broke out a month ago. The convoy was originally due to have crossed into Iraq on Tuesday.
The water will be delivered to hospitals and health services, as well as to the general population of 10,000 to 15,000. Vergara said it was hoped that the convoy would mark the start of a two-pronged aid approach to southern Iraq, with supplies coming in from Iran as well as Kuwait.
Until now, UNICEF has only been able to bring water and some limited medical supplies from Kuwait to the southernmost part of Iraq, to such places as the port city of Umm Qasr, Safwan and Zubayr. It is also trucking some water to the outskirts of the main southern city of Basra, but acknowledges that much more is needed to satisfy the demands of the 1.5 million people there.
However Vergara said what was most important was getting the city's water purification and distribution systems repaired and re-established.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions