The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has warned of an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe following reductions in the flow of the Euphrates River by Turkey.
Northeast Syria along the Euphrates River, which has been the country’s bread basket, is suffering from a severe drought, resulting in reduced agricultural production and a sharp rise in the price of wheat.
At a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Syria on 27 April, Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that unprecedented water shortages in 2021 had taken its toll on farmers and livestock producers. Some regions, she said, were reporting harvest losses of 75 percent, worsening already high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Water services cut-offs have been common in the area for more than a year, with some pumping stations operating for only four to six hours a day. Other cut-offs last more than four days.
SOHR has accused the government of Turkey of using water as a weapon through reduction of the flow of the river since 2 April.
ReliefWeb reports that the current water crisis in Northeast Syria spans three dimensions, i.e., a meteorological drought, reduced flow in the Euphrates, and a long-term drop in groundwater levels.
The water levels of the Euphrates improved in early 2022 but are still lower than they were in 2020, both as a result of climate change and reduced flows from Turkey.