In the midst of a severe water shortage crisis in Hasakah (Hesekê) Governorate, northeast Syria, an official from the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) called for direct intervention from the United Nations (UN) to put an end to the escalating situation.
The crisis began when Turkey cut off the water supply from the Alouk station, the sole water source for Hasakah and its surrounding areas, located in the city of Ras al-Ayn (Serêkaniyê). On 3 July, the AANES declared Hasakah a disaster area in response to Turkey’s ongoing stoppage of water flow.
AANES General Council Vice-President Yasser al-Suleiman described Turkey’s actions as a form of “racism” with the aim of demographic change and displacing residents, North Press Agency reported.
The impact of the water shortage has been profound, with around one million people in Hasakah, including internally displaced persons, facing a dire drinking water crisis. The situation has been exacerbated by high temperatures and a deteriorating economic situation caused by the siege on AANES-held areas and the closure of crossings.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also expressed concern over the crisis. A spokesperson for the organisation stated on 11 July that as summer temperatures soar, the residents of Hasakah are increasingly reliant on unsafe water sources, raising significant concerns regarding hygiene and health.
While the autonomous administration is now urging the UN to act swiftly in overseeing the pumping of water to Hasakah, it has been recently revealed that the Syrian government’s lack of cooperation forced the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation to cancel a visit to Syria.
“Despite my continued efforts, I regret that the authorities have failed to provide information and make steps necessary to allow the visit to take place,” Special Rapporteur Pedro Arrojo-Agudo said in a press release on 11 July.
The visit, which was scheduled to begin on 9 July, would have been the first opportunity for an independent UN expert to examine the conditions of water and sanitation facilities in different areas in the country.