The Turkish state has once again cut the water supply to the northern Syrian city of Hesekê. The interruption coincides with a phase of extended Turkish attacks on northern and eastern Syria.
In its war against the Autonomous Administration, Turkey is relying on all sorts of illegal means to target the civilian population. In addition to constant artillery bombardment of the villages along the border with the occupied territories, the Turkish state has now once again cut off the water supply serving the 1.2 million residents of the self-governing city of Hesekê. The interruption is possible because the Allouk (Êlok) pumping station is located in the occupied area near Serêkaniyê. Immediately after the invasion of Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî, which began on 9 October 2019, the AKP / MHP regime ordered its militias to cut off the water supply to Hesekê.
With the support of Russia, a reopening of the water pipes could be enforced. The water flow to Hesekê has been restricted for the last 25 days and the guarantors of the ceasefire – the US and Russia - are doing just as little against this blockade as they are against the permanent artillery attacks and repeated ground operations of Turkey and its mercenaries.
Electricity is not used for water supply
Part of the agreement negotiated through the mediation of Russia was that the Autonomous Administration would supply the Allouk and Serêkaniyê water stations with 20 mega-amperes. In return, water would be made available. The Autonomous Administration supplies 15 mega amperes via Mabruka and 5 mega amperes via Dirbêsiyê. However, this electricity is no longer used to operate the waterworks, but for agriculture and city lighting.
City, surrounding area and refugee camps affected
Due to the lack of electricity supply for 25 days, there is a lack of water. Around 1.2 million people are affected in and around Hesekê. 100,000 of them are seeking protection who live in the refugee camps Hol, Erîşa and Wasokanî. In the pandemic in particular, clean water is one of the most important things. The Autonomous Administration tries to compensate for the water shortage with tank trucks.
"War crimes against the civilian population"
The co-chair of the water administration of Hesekê canton, Nidal Mehmûd, described this action of the Erdoğan regime as a "war crime against the civilian population". He sharply criticized that the guarantors of the ceasefire did nothing, although the Autonomous Administration, as agreed, provided the electricity for the operation of the pumping stations and for Serêkaniyê.
Red Cross, USA, Russia and UNICEF are silent
Mehmûd reports that the Autonomous Administration has already turned to the guarantors, Russia and the US, as well as UNICEF and the United Nations for help, but so far nothing has happened. Mehmûd said: “In the past years, water supply was also interrupted in cities like Damascus and Aleppo. At that time the United Nations and international institutions took the initiative and the problem was solved. Only when it comes to northern and eastern Syria does this not happen. That is clearly a political decision."
The Allouk waterworks
In the past, the province of Hesekê was mainly supplied with water from the Xabûr (Habur) river. When the Turkish state minimized the Xabûr inflow, around 30 wells were drilled between Serêkaniyê and Dirbêsiyê between 2001 and 2002 and the Allouk waterworks opened. After the revolution, Allouk was repeatedly targeted by jihadists from al-Nusra Front and other mercenary groups sponsored by Turkey who came across the Turkish border. However, the station could be defended until the Turkish invasion in 2019. Now the waterworks is located in the area occupied by Turkey and its mercenaries, and it is being used over and over again, contrary to international law, to destabilize the region. In 2020, the region's water supply has already been interrupted several times. In these cases, statements by UNICEF and human rights organizations resulted in Turkey having to let the water flow again.
During a lockdown in August, the workers at the pumping station were told that the water would be turned off on “orders from Ankara”.
When the water supply to Damascus was cut in 2017, the United Nations issued a clear declaration - it was a war crime. The current blockade of the water supply to Hesekê is one for which the government in Ankara should be held responsible.