Turkey has cut off the water supply in areas of North East Syria as a means of pressing its advantage in the region.
The Turkish state took over Girê Spî and Serêkaniye on 9 October 2019 and has cut off the water supply in the Hesekê region, where 1.2 million people live, capturing Elok Water Station. Using the restriction of water as a war tactic against people in the region, Turkey has prevented the supply of water from Elok station to Hesekê and its rural areas for 25 days.
Turkey has cut off the water supply several times previously. However, it did stop this behaviour after international reactions and the mediating role of Russia. But yet again, Turkey has gone back to restricting the water supply.
After Turkey’s occupation of Girê Spî and Serêkaniye, an agreement was signed over negotiations between Russia and Turkey. According to that agreement the Autonomous Administration was to supply 20 mega amps of electric power to Serêkaniye and Elok station. In exchange, Turkey was to allow the water supply in the region.
While the Automous Administration kept its word, Turkey has prevented the water supply once again. Around 1.1 million people living in villages and districts of Hesekê, and over 100 people in the Hol, Erîşa and Waşokanî camps, have been without water. The Autonomous Administration attempts to meet water needs by using water tankers.
1.2 million people without water
According to the ANF’s report, Hesekê Water Management co-chair Nidal Mehmûd said that around 1.2 million people were living in the area and added that cutting off people’s supply of water was a war crime. Mehmûd stated that though the Autonomous Administration supplied electricity, Turkey cut the water supply and the guarantor states of the ceasefire agreement have done nothing in response.
‘A political decision’
Mehmûd stated that they explained the situation to guarantor states, especially Russia and United States, as well as to the Red Cross, UNICEF and the United Nations. However, Mehmûd said progress could not be achieved.
Calling on international associations and organisations alongside guarantor states to examine the situation, Mehmûd said, “Similar situations took place regarding cutting the water supplies in Aleppo and Damascus in previous years. At that time the United Nations and other international associations took action and solved the problem. However, when it comes to North East Syria, the absence of such an effort leads us to conclude that it is a political decision”.
Elok Water Station
Hesekê used to receive its water supply from Habur. However, after Turkey cut the supply of water from Habur, water wells were sunk in Serêkaniye and Dirbesiye in 2001 and 2002, and Elok station was constructed.
After Turkey and its mercenaries occupied Serekaniye in 2019, they took over Elok Water Station. Cutting the water supply affects the districts of Hesekê, Til Temir, Şedadê and Hol, as well as hundreds of villages in the region.