Humanitarian crisis looms | Turkey continues to seize water of the Euphrates river
Turkey has deliberately blocked the flow of Syria’s water share in Euphrates river for nearly two years, affecting Syrians inhabiting in areas close to the river and farmers who depend on the river’s water for irrigation, precisely the area stretching from Jarabulus in Aleppo countryside to Deir Ezzor running through both Al-Raqqah and Al-Tabaqah. In this context, SOHR activists have reported an alarming decrease in water levels in the Euphrates river.
According to SOHR sources, the agricultural production of farmlands depending on the river’s water for irrigation in Aleppo, Al-Raqqah and Deir Ezzor has been noticeably decreased, while several stations pumping water to farmlands have been put out of service, after the water lowed to a level below the power generators and turbines used for pumping water. Accordingly, a large space of agricultural land estimated to be thousands of acres, which had secured major income for the residents of this area, have suffered from drought.
Moreover, the sector of electricity has deliberated greatly because of the low production of hydroelectric power at the dams of Teshreen, Al-Furat and Al-Mansourah, where generators and turbines have stopped working because of the low level of water.
SOHR sources in Al-Tabaqah have confirmed that the water level in Euphrates river is down by four metres for the first time in three years and since the Turkish government started seizing Syria’s share of Euphrates water.
Similarly, health and medical sectors have been affected by this issue, where swamp and ponds filled with stagnant water have appeared on the banks of Euphrates river in Al-Raqqah, which contributed to spreading diseases, mainly leishmaniasis and cholera. It is worth noting that the current outbreak of cholera in Al-Raqqah and Deir Ezzor has resulted in the death of a person in Deir Ezzor, while tens other infections have been documented in Deir Ezzor and Al-Raqqah, according to medical sources.
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.
We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 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 Aleppo countryside.