110 Syrian organizations condemn the deprivation of civilians in northeast Syria of their right to access sufficient and safe water.

 

The signing organizations call on the United Nations to take necessary measures to find an urgent and sustainable solution to the water crisis in northeast Syria, neutralizing water resources from political and military conflicts.

The regions of northeast Syria are experiencing the worst drought in about 70 years due to climate change, low rainfall, rising temperatures, and the use of water as a weapon by conflict parties. This has exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis, leaving catastrophic effects on local communities.

The main challenge lies in the significant entanglement of Syrian water resources in the ongoing armed conflict, where they are not subject to unified management. The Turkish government and its affiliated Syrian factions deliberately deprive civilians in northeast Syria of their right to water. Meanwhile, the Syrian government targets and disrupts water stations that supply large areas in northwest Syria.

The escalating water crisis in northeast Syria is a major cause of food insecurity, livelihood undermining, and migration in search of resources. Water scarcity, poor water quality, inadequate sanitation systems, and insufficient hygiene facilities, especially in informal refugee camps, contribute to the spread of serious diseases.

The worsening and continuous water crisis in northeast Syria has had catastrophic effects on the lives of more than 4 million people, including around one million internally displaced persons. They rely on water resources for drinking, daily use, agriculture, and industry, amid ongoing conflict and deteriorating infrastructure. The United Nations estimates that two-thirds of water treatment plants in Syria, half of pumping stations, and one-third of water towers have been damaged since 2011.

Various factors, including frequent disruptions in the supply of drinking water from the Allouk water station in the countryside of Ras al-Ain/Sari Kani, have led to the acute water crisis affecting residents of northeast Syria since late 2020. Since Turkey and the Syrian National Army factions took control of the region in October 2019 through the “Peace Spring” operation, the services of the Allouk water station, a vital source for approximately 800,000 people in northeast Syria, have experienced repeated interruptions.

Additionally, dangerously low levels of water flowing from Turkey to the Syrian part of the Euphrates River, relied upon by over 5 million people in Syria as a direct water source, affect the authorities’ ability to serve communities. The high concentration of pollutants in the water leads to the spread of diseases.

The Euphrates River is the most important source of water and electricity for northeast Syria and other parts of the country. However, Turkish authorities imposed severe restrictions on the flow of water to the Syrian part of the river since February 2021, much less than the 500 cubic meters stipulated in the 1987 agreement between Turkey and Syria.

While countries have signed bilateral agreements, there is no comprehensive or long-term treaty among Turkey, Syria, and Iraq regarding water sharing. Syria and Iraq have long accused Turkey of using its control over the river as a political tool, and Turkey’s actions at times indicate effective Turkish control over the river.

Several international principles govern the use of shared waters, including the principles of fair and reasonable use of water resources, refraining from causing serious harm to riparian countries, and the general duty to notify and consult with countries when planning any relevant economic activity.

The signing organizations of this statement call on the Turkish government to fairly share water resources from the Euphrates River with Syria and Iraq, ensure the continued operation of the Allouk station in pumping water to needy communities, adequately and without interruption. They also urge all parties to the conflict to fulfill their duties towards the right of all Syrians to access sufficient and safe water.

Furthermore, the United Nations is called upon to take necessary measures to find an urgent and sustainable solution to the water crisis in northeast Syria and the entire country, neutralizing water resources from political and military conflicts. This includes:

– Establishing a neutral and independent monitoring mechanism for the Euphrates River and all transboundary water resources shared by Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. Its task would be to monitor compliance with signed agreements and international law rules, and support dialogue among key stakeholders to reach a sustainable settlement ensuring fair and reasonable water use.

– Calling on the Turkish government and other conflict parties to fulfill their obligations towards human rights and respect the right of all Syrians to access suitable drinking and utility water, neutralizing water resources from political conflicts.

– Strengthening monitoring and oversight of violations related to the right to water and seeking justice for the victims. The Human Rights Council and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria should systematically include water access violations in their reports and raise the issue with relevant authorities.

– Developing a strategy for the region regarding transboundary water challenges. The United Nations should take necessary measures to ensure the right of civilians in northeast Syria to access sufficient and safe water, addressing challenges affecting surface and groundwater, soil growth, and vegetation cover.

– Ensuring comprehensive participation in water resource management, access to information, and transparency measures. Platforms should be established to engage key stakeholders, including local communities and civil society organizations, in consultations or policies related to water resource management, including transboundary issues, while simultaneously working to increase transparency in reporting water management issues.

– Prioritizing the preservation of current water resources and avoiding depletion, alongside rehabilitating existing infrastructure and initiating a process to clean and treat all polluted water resources and rivers.

The signing organizations, in alphabetical order:

  1. Assyrian Aid Society
  2. Jiyan – Life
  3. Please for Relief and Development
  4. Justice for Life
  5. Syrian Center for Studies and Dialogue
  6. Rebuilding Mansoura
  7. Asfier for Development
  8. Lights for Development and Construction
  9. Better Hope for Raqqa
  10. Ashna for Development
  11. Bader for Development and Community Media
  12. Bell – Civil Waves
  13. Bridges of Hope
  14. Aseel Association for Development
  15. Friends Association for Relief and Development
  16. Baraka Association
  17. Khabor Association
  18. Diyar Association
  19. Jasmine Association
  20. Aras Charitable Association
  21. Bokra Ahla Association for Relief and Development
  22. Green Bridges Environmental Association
  23. Jiyan Charitable Association
  24. Links of Hope Association for Development
  25. Shawishka Women’s Association
  26. Diaa Al-Amal Association for People with Special Needs
  27. Touch of Goodness Association for Relief and Development
  28. Mary Association for Culture, Arts, and Environment
  29. Nujin Association for Community Development
  30. Warshin Environmental Association
  31. Dan for Relief and Development
  32. Tazaz Association for Victims
  33. Dar Displacement Victims Association (DAR)
  34. Zameen for Development and Peacebuilding
  35. Sanabel Al-Furat for Development
  36. Syrians for Truth and Justice
  37. Oxygen Youth
  38. Youth for Change
  39. Peace Leaders Network
  40. Makers of Hope
  41. Ukkaz
  42. Tomorrow is Better
  43. Fajr
  44. Future Makers Team
  45. Displaced of Sari Kani/Ras al-Ain Committee
  46. Malfa for Arts and Culture
  47. Center for Women’s Research and Protection of Women’s Rights in Syria
  48. Center for Defense of Freedoms
  49. Diamond Center for Studies, Research, Consultations, Arbitration, and Training in Deir ez-Zor
  50. ASO Center for Consultations and Strategic Studies
  51. Seeds Development Center
  52. Balsam Center for Health Education
  53. Stability Support Center
  54. Zain Center for Development
  55. Justice Center for Human Rights
  56. Ras Al-Ain/Sari Kani Platform
  57. Afrin Platform
  58. Wheat and Olive Platform
  59. Atarneti Organization
  60. Hands-on Organization
  61. Community Solidarity Organization
  62. Humanitarian and Development Cooperation Organization
  63. Peace Organization
  64. Assyrian Cross Organization for Relief and Development
  65. Al-Ahd Organization
  66. Euphrates Organization
  67. Nouras Organization for Development
  68. Ibadah Development Organization
  69. Inmaa Al-Jazeera Organization
  70. Ila for Development and Peacebuilding
  71. Ajjal Organization for Development
  72. Areej Organization for Social Development
  73. Amal Al-Furat Organization
  74. Anwar Al-Ghad Organization
  75. Citizens’ House Organization
  76. Purety Organization
  77. Tara Team for Women and Children Rehabilitation
  78. Dijla Organization for Development and Environment
  79. Duz Organization
  80. Diarna Organization
  81. Demos Organization
  82. Peace Pioneers Organization
  83. Rahma Organization for Studies and Development
  84. Roj Ava Organization for Relief and Development
  85. Rojkar Organization for Relief and Development
  86. Rose Organization for Support and Empowerment
  87. Ru’a Organization
  88. Sara Organization for Combating Violence Against Women
  89. Slav Organization for Civil Activities
  90. Sanad Humanity Organization
  91. Suwaidna Organization for Development
  92. Sawa’edna Organization for Relief and Development
  93. Shaqayiq Al-Khair Organization
  94. Faidh Organization for Development
  95. Qudra Organization
  96. Kobani Relief and Development Organization
  97. For Them Humanity Organization
  98. Syria Aid Organization
  99. Together for Gernaya Organization
  100. Minara Organization
  101. Nasma Amal Humanity Organization
  102. Nodum Organization for Rehabilitation and Human Development
  103. Hivo for Relief and Development
  104. Wasal for Development Organization
  105. Water and Environment Foundation
  106. Tootool for Relief and Development
  107. Jiyan Human Rights Foundation
  108. Nawa
  109. White Hope
  110. North Press Agency
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