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Good morning, this is Pip, bringing you the third chapter in our series on water security, where we explore some of the challenges facing the world’s most precious resource and speak to people in search of solutions.

Today, we’re travelling to Syria, where attacks on water during the decade-long conflict have left lasting scars. As the country plunges deeper into a water crisis, we hear how a basic necessity can become a weapon in the wrong hands, and a tool for peace in others.

photo journaliste

Pip Cook


​​🇸🇾 War or peace? In Syria, water flows both ways

Photo article

Credit: Rocio Egio for Geneva Solutions

Around 60 kilometres north of Aleppo lies the small town of Jalamah, nestled in the hills of north-west Syria. A decade has passed since protests in the city of Daraa at the opposite end of the country sparked an uprising that later escalated into the bloody conflict that continues to rage in parts of Syria. But although today's battles remain far from the town walls, the residents have been faced with a new fight in recent years: the fight to get water.

Already an arid country like most of its neighbours in the Middle East, Syria has been in a situation of high water stress for over four decades. Many scholars view drought and water shortages as contributors to the unrest that escalated into the 2011 civil war.

But as well as being a possible spark of war, Syria’s water has taken on a new role over the past decade as a weapon, with catastrophic repercussions for civilians – both immediate and long-term, as the people of Jalamah and across the country can attest.

“The use of water as a weapon of war is nothing new in the Middle East,” says Ahmed Haj Asaad, founder of Geneva-based NGO Geo Expertise, which has spent 20 years working on water projects in Syria, including in Jalamah. “But what was new in the Syrian conflict is that water was used as a weapon against the population, whereas before it was only on the battlefield.”

Read more on Geneva Solutions.

Water in numbers

Photo article

10 years on since the start of the conflict, Syria is in the grips of a water crisis – one that ongoing fighting, rising temperatures and the worst drought in 70 years is only making worse. Humanitarian groups have warned that more than 12 million people in Syria and neighbouring Iraq are losing access to food and electricity as well as water due to shortages this year, and called for urgent action.

Relief Web (EN)

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