Turkey Weaponizes Water Supply
Cuts Water to 460,000 People in Northeast Syria
On March 21, the Turkish government allowed its armed groups to cut the water supply to about 460,000 people. The Allouk water station is the most significant water supply station for the Northeast Syrian region.
"The interruption of water supply during the current efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease puts children and families at unacceptable risk. Handwashing with soap is critical in the fight against COVID-19," states UNICEF representative in Syria Fran Equiza.
The regional director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Misty Buswell stated there have been previous interruptions in the water supply.
“Turkish backed sources entered the water station and forced it to stop its work and threw out the technicians as well," said Sozda Ahmed of the Autonomous Administration in Northeast Syria in February.
Ahmed explains, "[I]t was assumed the Russian state was the guarantor of supplying the city with water, but they did not play their role well.”
Fabrice Balanche, a Syria expert and associate professor at France’s Lyon II University stated, "[W]ater is a weapon that Turkey has used against Syria in the past and it will likely continue to do so."
AFK condemns the use of water as a weapon of war by Turkey and its armed groups, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Cutting water to 460,000 civilians is a political decision to gain a military advantage. Weaponizing the water supply is a crime against humanity and should be investigated by the UN and NATO.
The United States still has an opportunity to strengthen its position in the region. Russia and Turkey have both taken advantage of the vacuum left behind by the U.S. withdrawal from the region late last year.
The U.S. must intervene and force the Turkish government to put an end to this tactic. This is a simple and low-cost way for the United States to help fight COVID-19 overseas.
No one should be without water in the midst of this public health crisis—or ever. It is in Turkey’s self-interest to ensure a clean water supply reaches Syrians. The lack of water will lead to a humanitarian crisis and will cause the pandemic to worsen across the region.
AFK is reaching out to members of Congress to shed light on this crisis.