WHO says unsafe water sources affect hygiene, health in Syria’s Hasakah

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – As temperatures of the scorching summer increase, residents of the city of Hasakah, northeast Syria, continue to rely on unsafe water sources raising many concerns regarding hygiene and health, a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

In an exclusive statement to North Press Agency, the WHO spokesperson said the organization voices concern regarding the “ongoing, frequent interruptions at Alouk drinking water station,” resulting in increased reliance on water from unsafe sources.

The WHO spokesperson added, “With reduced access to safe water, there is a reduction in hygiene and healthy behaviours such as washing of hands, fruits and vegetables.”

She stressed that the WHO “remains vigilant” regarding the “serious” risk posed to people of Hasakah and “the most vulnerable in camps and camp-like settings.”

There are four IDP camps in Hasakah Governorate. Washokani camp, north of Hasakah, is considered the largest one, housing over 16,000 IDPs from the city of Sere Kaniye and its countryside, according to the statistics of the camp’s administration given to North Press.

She noted that water-borne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and cholera increase and functionality and safety of health facilities and services is also affected in such environments.

The WHO spokesperson noted that currently the organization, in northeast Syria, is engaged in monitoring water quality, focuses on testing camp setting, and “testing of water sources, water trucks and water storage locations.

Additionally, it distributes “water disinfection tablets at the household level and to health facilities.”

She confirmed that “water stations are civilian infrastructure” and should be protected all times.

She also urged all parties “to immediately provide safe passage and regular and unimpeded access for technical and humanitarian personnel so that Alouk water station can operate without further interruption.”

 Recently, Hasakah and its countryside have been suffering from a declining drinking water crisis after Turkey cut off water from the Alouk station, which provides water for around a million people.

On July 3, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) declared the city of Hasakah, its villages, and IDP camps a “disaster area” because Turkey cuts-off water from the city “with the complicity of Russia and the Syrian government.” 

One million people are suffering from a severe water crisis in Hasakah as Turkish forces and their affiliated armed opposition factions, aka Syrian National Army (SNA), continue to withhold water form Alouk water station, which is the main source of water for Hasakah and its towns and villages.

Alouk water station, which lies in the city of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye), is the only water resource feeding Hasakah and its countryside, however, the station is controlled by Turkey and its affiliated SNA.

In 2019, the Turkish forces and the SNA factions launched the so-called “Peace Spring” military operation where it occupied Sere Kaniye and its countryside.

In the past years, since it took control of Alouk water station, Turkey has cut off water from reaching Hasakah for over 40 times, according to the AANES Water Directorate.

Reporting by Saya Muhammad