Euphrates River crisis| Turkey continues seizing Syria’s share of water
The Turkish government continues to close its dams, retaining the water of Euphrates river, despite the repeated calls for the release of Syria’s share of the water in the river. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activists have reported a new and continuous decline in the level of the Euphrates river’s water, along with the stopping of the irrigation and power generation turbines, as the continuous decrease in the water level at the Euphrates Dam has led to the receding of water in the governorates of al-Raqqah and Deir Ezzor, in addition to the pats that flow through the Iraqi lands. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights repeats that an imminent disaster threatens lives and livelihood of more than three million Syrians, who depend on the river for drinking, electricity and irrigation.
On May 9, SOHR activists in the Syrian Jazeera reported that a large number of irrigation stations were put out of service due to the continuous decrease in the water level of the Euphrates River, after Turkey retained Syria’s share of the Euphrates’s water, amid growing popular dissatisfaction in the Jazeera region. Meanwhile, many power generation turbines have been ceased in al-Tabqah dam, due to the drop in water level, as well as the drying up of parts of it in several areas.
On May 4, SOHR reported that the water level in the Euphrates river is alarmingly decreasing, amid growing fear among the region’s residents of environmental disaster and unexpected consequences. It is worth noting that the water level in Euphrates river is down by five metres for the first time ever at a time when the Turkish government continues seizing Syria’s share of Euphrates water. However, no action has been taken, despite the human rights organizations’ appeals and the residents’ calls for releasing water supply.
According to the agreement signed between Syria and Turkey in 1987 regarding the Euphrates River, Syria’s share of water coming from Turkey is supposed to be 500 cubic meters per second (2500 barrels). However, less than 200 cubic meters of water now reach Syria.
SOHR activists monitored drought in large spaces along the Euphrates river form the Euphrates dam in al-Tabaqah to al-Mansurah dam in al-Raqqah, as Turkey deliberately continued retaining Syria’s share of water with the aim to drain the Syrian Jazeera region. Accordingly, considerable damage plagued the farmlands in the region, affecting two million and half people as well as the suspension of power generators. Meanwhile, popular anger was growing, amid the residents’ demands to the Turkish government to release Syria’s share of water of Euphrates river.
Earlier, reliable sources in al-Raqqah province told SOHR that the water pumps in Ma’adan Atiq, Ghanim al-Ali in eastern al-Raqqah, and Dabsi Affan in western al-Raqqah were put out of service due to the ongoing drop in water level in the Euphrates river in al-Raqqha countryside, which is under control of regime forces, as Turkey continued retaining water running through its dams to Syria.
On the other hand, power outages plagued the entire areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration because of the suspension of power turbines in the stations of al-Tabaqah dam.
According to SOHR sources, the city of al-Hasakah was suffering a blackout for the third consecutive day, as electricity was available for only two hours a day. Meanwhile, power outage in the other areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration lasts for long hours.
We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, warn against an environmental catastrophe threatening food security in the Syrian Jazeera region and a humanitarian crises which poses a threat to nearly two million and half people in different areas in al-Raqqah, al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor and Kobani.