On 18 June, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Imran Riza, and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Muhannad Hadi, in a joint statement expressed concern about the humanitarian impact of low water levels in the Euphrates river for millions of people, many of whom have already been struggling to cope following 10 years of crisis.
The two senior UN officials stated that millions of people in Syria rely on the Euphrates for drinking water and electricity generation, but low water levels are affecting important infrastructure in the region, including hospitals and irrigation networks, and leading to widespread blackouts.
They warned of possible longer-term impacts of the water crisis, including damage to agriculture, a worsening of food insecurity, livelihood losses and a severe undermining of overall public health.
Whilst the UN officials highlighted the need of the people of North East Syria for long-term, regular and reliable access to water, sanitation, electricity and other basic services which the Euphrates provides, Turkish-backed mercenaries have reportedly cut the water supply of Elok Station, located in al-Hasakah, for the 25th time.
Current estimates indicate that over five million people, including those living in North East Syria, are reliant on the Euphrates for their drinking water, and approximately three million people for their electricity.
Ongoing drought and neighbouring Turkey’s water policy that uses ‘water shut-offs’ as a weapon in an ongoing conflict in the Al-Hasakah region, have been affecting the lives of innumerable vulnerable people living in the area.
Human Rights Watch previously condemned Turkish authorities’ failure to ensure adequate water supplies to North East Syria, accusing Turkey of compromising humanitarian agencies’ ability to prepare and protect vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.