124 civil society organizations sign open letter condemning Turkey’s restriction of Euphrates River

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — One hundred and twenty-four civil society organizations signed an open letter on Monday condemning Turkey’s cutting off the waters of Euphrates River. The statement was read publicly at a press conference in Zalin (Qamishli) in North and East Syria.

The letter stated that Turkey is using water as a weapon against the Syrian people, a flagrant violation of human rights, especially as the summer approaches in which citizens will be in dire need of water for drinking, agriculture, and energy production.

The statement added that the Euphrates is the primary source of water for the inhabitants of North and East Syria and cutting off the flow of water is the first step in renewed attempt at ethnic cleansing.

In October 2019, Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) invaded North and East Syria, displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians and re-settling Syrians from other parts of the country in their homes.

This is not the first time that Turkey cut off the waters of Euphrates. In May 2014, it cut off water to the region and has routinely stopped the water pumps outside Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) — under its control since the invasion and occupation in 2019 — which services over a million people.

The statement concluded: “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.”

The full text of the statement, including a list of the signatory organizations, can be found here.