Sitara Thalia Ambrosio

Photojournalist and Visual Storyteller.
    
Climate Crisis and War: When water becomes a weapon.
Location: Hanover
Nationality: german
Biography: Sitara Thalia Ambrosio  is a german Photojournalist and Visual Storyteller. She contributing to various online and print media on an international scale. Her journalistic focus revolves around gender-related issues, migration, and human... MORE
Public Story
Climate Crisis and War: When water becomes a weapon.
Copyright Sitara Thalia Ambrosio 2024
Updated Mar 2024
Topics Spotlight
Summary
Climate Crisis and War: When water becomes a weapon.

The north-east of Syria is withering. Global waming is hitting the region harder than almost any other - at the same time, Turkey is restricting the flow of the Euphrates, the country‘s lifeline. Tur- key has built 22 dams on the Euphrates and Tig- ris rivers in recent decades in order to utilize the water for its own purposes. Climate change and conflict are creating a double crisis that could affect millions of people around the world. At the beginning of June 2023, the city council in Hassakeh in north-east Syria declared a water emergency. If the water does not return, there will be a humanitarian catastrophe, warn those responsible.

But where has the water gone? Wasn‘t Mesopo- tamia, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which is considered the cradle of civiliza- tion, once known for its fertility? Until a few ye- ars ago, Syria harvested half of its grain and most of its cotton here. Now the hardship is becoming more visible with each passing year:

There are the water trucks in Hassakeh, hundreds of whom crowd into the city in the morning. The- re are fishermen on the Euphrates who complain that their catch is becoming increasingly meager. There is the country‘s largest reservoir, Lake al- Assad, whose water level has fallen by six meters in two years. The turbines, which are producing less and less electricity. The water quality, which is decreasing with the amount of water. And the people who have to drink contaminated water as a result - and fall ill with cholera.

At the same time, people in the region are still coming to terms with the horrors of the rule of the so-called Islamic State. The terror group raged in the area. Self-defense units fought with a coalition to bring down IS. However, countless of its supporters are still based in north-east Syria today. Time and again, SDF units arrest suspected sleeper cells. Tens of thousands - some of them international Islamists - are imprisoned in the Al-Hol camp. There are repeated attempts at liberation and uprisings. Among the inmates were also international supporters who had joined the so-called caliphate. The self-administration is trying to bring them to justice and deal with the atrocities. In addition to the perpetrators, many of those affected by the terror live in the region. All these efforts are in danger: Turkey is not only cutting back the water supply, but also regularly bombing the region.

Text & research: Bartholomäus Laffert
Research assistance & translation: Shaveen Mohammad
Transport & security: Shalaan Albello

Travel and research funded through „Global Health Security Call 2023“ by European Journalism Center“

Singular images have been published by Amnesty Journal, Greenpeace Magazin, TAZ, WOZ, and Zeit Online - this edit as a whole though is unpublished. The photo essay is on the shortlist of the World Water Day Photo Contest 2024 under the category "Storytelling".
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