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Almost 90% of Tripoli now has water: NTC
by Staff Writers
Tripoli (AFP) Sept 8, 2011

Nearly all of Tripoli has regained access to running water after nearly two weeks of shortages, the head of a prime ministerial task force told AFP on Thursday.

"Nearly 90% of Tripoli has water again," Aref al-Nayed said, reporting that engineers had managed to restore the flow from wells in the deep south after an interruption that left four million people in the greater Tripoli area without war.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis had earlier described the shortages as "serious" and "the most important and urgent and immediate priority" for humanitarian agencies.

Residents of the capital had been without running water as the war forced disruptions to Libya's state-of-the-art system that draws water from underground aquifers deep in the Sahara.

The United Nations and other international actors had said they were importing about 11 million litres of drinking water to stave off an emergency, as engineers raced to get the system back on line.

Nayed, who head the prime minister's stabilisation team, said the more than 580 wells linked to the Great Man Made River system were again feeding the city.

"They had to reset the systems manually and before, that was not possible. For security reasons, they could not get to the stations.

"There was no major damage but some equipment was stolen," he said.

Azerbaijanis rally in support of dying Iranian lake
Baku (AFP) Sept 8, 2011 - Demonstrators Thursday staged a rare protest in Azerbaijan in support of their ethnic kin in neighbouring Iran whose livelihoods are under threat from the shrinking of the Islamic republic's largest lake.

Even small protests are rarely tolerated in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan but around 20 people managed to gather in Baku, although police prevented them from picketing the Iranian embassy.

The protesters led by lawmaker Sabir Rustamhanli chanted slogans calling for action to save the dying Lake Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran -- an area heavily populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis.

Iranian police put down demonstrations last month by Orumiyeh residents fearful about the potential impact on agriculture and livelihoods, according to several local news websites.

"The events connected to the draining of Lake Orumiyeh represent the highest level of brutality by the Iranian authorities towards Azerbaijanis," Rustamhanli told AFP.

One of the largest salt lakes in the world, Lake Orumiyeh has shrunk by more than half in the past two decades due to drought and the damming of rivers that feed it, and could dry out if no action is taken, officials and environmental experts say.

The Azerbaijani minority in Iran -- up to a quarter of the republic's 74 million population, according to some estimates -- far outnumbers Azerbaijan's own population of 9.1 million.

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