124 organizations condemn Turkey’s water blocking, calling for firm action to bind Turkey
Today, 124 civil society organizations issued a joint statement denouncing Turkey’s decision to withhold the Euphrates River’s water from Syria and Iraq, and demanded the United Nations and the international community to effectively pressure the Turkish government to abide by the rules of water sharing, consider the needs of the communities in Syria and Iraq and not threaten the already fragile lives of their residents.
The text of the statement issued by civil society organizations stated the following:
“River water sharing treaties are considered a very important issue in international relations and good neighborliness between countries that share the water of rivers crossing their lands. It is also a human rights issue par excellence because it expresses the respect for the rights of the peoples of these countries by all the countries concerned. The water issue strongly expresses the people’s needs for water in their economy, food and drink.”
Over recent years, Turkey has exploited the disastrous conditions in Syria and began diverting the water of the Euphrates River to dams it recently built within its borders. This policy resulted in the scarcity of water in the Euphrates River that reaches Syria and Iraq, as the water level declined sharply from about 600 m3 / s to below the sufficient level for irrigation and the extraction of drinking water 200 m3 / s according to the latest Syrian-Turkish agreement signed in 1987, which reflects the life of communities depending on the Euphrates River in the Syrian Jazirah and in Iraq in a catastrophic impact, especially since the dry season has begun in the two countries. In addition, specialists confirmed the amount of damage that will be caused to the pumps and projects built on the river.
More than 4 million people live in the Syrian region of al-Jazirah. They depend completely on the Euphrates water for agriculture, industry, generating electricity from the Euphrates, Tishreen and al-Baath Dams, and in order to obtain drinking water. Residents have begun suffering from water shortages in Spring, Summer and Autumn due to the oppressive extraction of Euphrates water by the Turkish authorities, from which the Euphrates River originates. In light of the drought caused by the lack of rain for this year, Turkey’s overstepping the allocations of Syria and Iraq from the Euphrates water will have a disastrous impact on the livelihood of the residents of these areas.
The Turkish government must consider its policies towards the neighboring countries and abide by water sharing treaties with Syria and Iraq for the sake of equitable distribution of water resources, especially since the inhabitants of these areas are already suffering from major disasters due to the difficult conditions, the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, and the deficiency of health institutions in their areas for the water shortage problem to increase their suffering exacerbated for years.
We, in civil society organizations condemn and denounce the actions of the Turkish government, and we call on the United Nations and the international community to effectively pressure the Turkish government to adhere to the rules of sharing water and consider the needs of the communities in Syria and Iraq and not threaten the already fragile life of populations, especially as we are on the verge of a long season of dehydration.