Euphrates River drying endangers 2.5 million Syrians: monitor

Syrians face further crisis as Euphrates dries to alarming levels: monitor
2 min read
07 May, 2021
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned of a possible environmental catastrophe for 2.5 million Syrians.
[AFP/Getty]

A dramatic drop in water levels in the Euphrates River is endangering the lives of millions of Syrians, a human rights monitor said in a report on Tuesday. 

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the unprecedented decrease in water levels is an alarming case, as Turkey continues to block the flow of water supply from its end.

The Euphrates is a 2,800 km long river with its source in eastern Turkey. It ends in southern Iraq, flowing through war-torn Syria, which relies heavily on this supply of water for irrigation in its northeast.

Residents of north-eastern Syria began noticing a decrease in the water levels since earlier last year. The region is under self-proclaimed autonomous Kurdish control, who have accused Turkey of cutting off the vital supply deliberately.

“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”, the SOHR said in its report.

According to an agreement signed between Syria and Turkey in 1987, Syria’s share of water from the river coming from Turkey is supposed to be 500 cubic meters per second. Less than 200 cubic meters of water now reach Syria, according to the SOHR.

The water crisis is also impacting electricity production, as power turbines have stopped working. Sources told the SOHR that the city of Hasaka haS been suffering from severe power cuts for days, with lights coming on for only two hours a day. Power outages in other areas controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces also last for long hours.

The SOHR warned of a possible environmental catastrophe threatening food security, endangering the livelihoods of two and a half million people in Syria’s northeast.

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