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Syria, Middle East to Face Oncoming Drought Disaster - Report
By Staff, Agencies
Aid groups and engineers warned of a looming humanitarian disaster in northeast Syria, where waning river flow is compounding woes after a decade of war.
They said plummeting water levels at hydroelectric dams since January are threatening water and power cutoffs for up to five million Syrians, in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
The Euphrates River runs for almost 1,700 miles across Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
Along its way, it irrigates swathes of land in Syria's breadbasket, and runs through three hydroelectric dams that provide power and drinking water to millions.
But over the past eight months the river has contracted to a sliver, sucking precious water out of reservoirs and increasing the risk of dam turbines grinding to a halt.
Since January, the water level plummeted by 16 feet, and now hovers just dozens of centimeters above "dead level" when turbines are supposed to completely stop producing electricity.
Across northeast Syria, already power generation has fallen by 70 percent since last year, the head of the energy authority Welat Darwish said.
Two out of three of all potable water stations along the river are pumping less water or have stopped working, according to humanitarian groups.
These dry spells are to become longer and more severe around the Mediterranean, the United Nations has warned, with Syria most at risk, according to the 2019 Global Crisis Risk Index.
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