COUNTRIES

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Syrian war has destroyed the lives of millions of people, but it also has had a detrimental impact on the environment. Inside the country the destruction is palpable, but further the conflict has affected the environments of countries outside Syria in many ways that are most often related to the fast displacement of people.

This is a journalistic research project on environmental impacts of the Syrian crisis and their solutions in neighbouring countries.

The aim is to look in to the environmental consequences and pressure that the Syrian crisis and refugee situation has on the countries that have received, and are currently hosting, large amounts of refugees. This conflict is an example of the fact, that in addition to the immense human suffering, war leads to environmental destruction – and vice versa, environmental destruction can also lead to war and more human suffering.

In our view, too little attention has been given to the environmental consequences of the crisis. This is why we started this project, which is a study combining science, art and journalism. It looks into the environmental consequences and pressure that the Syrian crisis and refugee situation has on the countries that have received, and are currently hosting, large amounts of refugees.

”-This is not the environmental impact of the refugees and migrants, it is the environmental impact of the Syrian war.”

Demetris Lekkas, specialist in waste management
from the University of the Aegean in Lesbos,
commenting the environmental consequences of the refugee situation on the island.

  • Water
  • Waste
  • Energy and landuse

Water scarcity is a critical issue in the countries of the Middle East. Countries have struggled with capacity challenges to provide sufficient water and sanitation services after a sudden influx of Syrian war refugees. Problems with proper water supplies and sanitation have an impact on the environment and also on refugees and local population.

Hotspots Background
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Approximately 12.6 million people in Syria lack regular access to safe water. In addition to drought and depleted groundwater resources, the collapsed waste collection system and partially destroyed water and wastewater infrastructure are cause big challenges to communities.

 

Articles related to the theme:

Beyond The Debris – The Environment Is A Major Victim Of The Syrian Conflict

A Look In To The Future – What Can Be Learnt From Syrian Conflict And How To Rebuild Keeping Environment In Mind

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Turkey is experiencing some serious challenges with water and wastewater services, especially in the southeastern region, which is the one of the driest areas of the country. The situation is causing groundwater storage depletion and there are also problems with the water distribution networks.



Articles related to this issue:
Water Doesn’t Flow Nonstop To The Öncüpinar Refugee Camp

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The water challenges of Greece caused by the refugee crisis are mainly visible in the so called hotspots in specific Greek islands receiving asylum seekers. The size and resources of the camps haven’t been sufficient to host the arrivals, which created problems with water, sanitation and waste management. Some islands have also suffered water shortages.


Articles related to the theme:

Lifejacket graveyard

Cleaning the beaches of Lesbos

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The water security in Jordan was unstable already prior to the Syrian conflict. With the increasing amount of refugees, the country is on the verge of running out of water resources.

Jordan has achieved high levels of water and sanitation services; 95% of the population have access to safe drinking water and about 63% are connected to the public sewer system.


Articles related to the theme:

The War In Syria Batters The Environments Of Neighboring Countries

Jordan Is On The Edge Of A Water Disaster – The Home Of Jordanians And Arab Refugees Could Run Out Of Fresh Water In The Next Few Decades

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Dilapidated sanitation services are causing environmental health problems, including contamination of water resources. Only two thirds of the population are connected to sewage networks. Mismanagement of water resources and low water storage capacity create regional and seasonal discrepancy in water supply. The leakage of the water network system is as high as 50%.


Articles related to the theme:

The War In Syria Batters The Environments Of Neighboring Countries

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The highly populated refugee communities require more water meanwhile water scarcity is increasing in the area. Water is diverted from agriculture, which aggravates food security and the rural economy. Iraq’s water crisis stems also from lack of domestic water management and proper treatment facilities, leaky networks and weak waste related regulation.

Proper waste management might not be the first thing you think about in a crisis, but it is necessary in order to maintain a liveable environment and a healthy population. Mismanaged waste can have long term effects on the environment and even make the conflict and its consequences worse.

Hotspots Background
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The Syrian conflict has had severe negative consequences on the environment. Destroyed infrastructure and debris, collapsed waste collection systems and munitions residue have led to serious and long-lasting environmental consequences. In some areas, garbage is disposed of by burying or burning, causing soil contamination and air quality problems.



Articles related to this issue:
Beyond The Debris – The Environment Is A Major Victim Of The Syrian Conflict
A Look In To The Future – What Can Be Learnt From Syrian Conflict And How To Rebuild Keeping Environment In Mind

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Since the arrival of Syrian refugees, waste volumes have increased in the south east of Turkey by 21.5%. The additional generation of waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges and it has led to health and environmental risks. The illegal dumping of waste has also caused problems by increasing contamination risks to scarce water resources.



Articles related to this issue:
Gaziantep Municipality Struggles Against Waste With The Support Of UNDP

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Plastic waste is the most visible environmental issue on the islands. Each person leaves an estimated 8kg of waste behind. Plastic dinghies and discarded life vests are the most visible of this.


Articles related to this issue:
Lifejacket graveyard
Cleaning the beaches of Lesbos

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Waste is a serious issue especially in the northern governorates of Jordan. Proper clean-up and management are needed in the overused landfills containing hazardous waste. The average volume of medical waste has increased by 184% in comparison to the pre-conflict volumes. An estimated 19% of solid waste can’t be landfilled due to a lack of landfill capacity.


Articles related to this issue:
The War In Syria Batters The Environments Of Neighboring Countries

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Lebanon has been facing a severe solid waste crisis because of a significant increase in the population and the volume of solid waste generated in urban areas. An estimated 1700 dumping sites have been created since 2015. The densely populated areas suffer from the piling up of garbage.


Articles related to this issue:
The War In Syria Batters The Environments Of Neighboring Countries

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In Iraq, solid waste is often disposed of directly into the environment without adequate treatment. Solid waste management issues have increased especially in Kurdish areas that have received internally displaced people and refugees. Soil contamination has occurred in some areas as a result of unexploded ordnance and mines.

The Syrian conflict has created a lot of pressure on land use and energy supplies. There has been long term destruction to land and infrastructure in many areas inside the conflict zone. In the neighboring countries hosting refugees, more land and energy are needed to provide food, housing, roads and other infrastructure for the new residents.

Hotspots Background
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As of December 2014, 1.3 million houses – or one-third of all residential sites – were destroyed in Syria. The need for new land-use planning and reconstruction is significant. Extensive damage to infrastructure and a lack of spare parts for repairs has resulted in regular cuts to electricity in the areas affected by conflict.

Articles related to this issue:
Beyond The Debris – The Environment Is A Major Victim Of The Syrian Conflict
A Look In To The Future – What Can Be Learnt From Syrian Conflict And How To Rebuild Keeping Environment In Mind

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The areas with large populations of refugees are under severe pressure on land use and energy resources. Since half of the refugees live near the Syrian border and Istanbul, there is a huge construction boom in growth centers in the south east of Turkey.  Turkey’s demand for energy has been increasing fastest among the OECD members in recent years along the economic and population growth. The impact of the Syrian refugees have been seen as a boost economic growth in Turkey.

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Regarding land use in Greece, the effects of the refugee crisis have been local and small scale. Small actions that have impacted the environment and land on the islands have been caused by the inconsiderate use of natural resources and land, for example people cutting down olive trees for firewood.

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Between 2013–2015 Jordanian rangeland area decreased by 9,6%, forests by 1,5% and water by 0,6%, urban areas increased 11,4% and croplands by 0,2%. Jordan is heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports. Conflicts have disrupted the fuel supply over past years revealing an energy insecurity. To increase independence renewable energy has been a central energy policy since 2007.

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The influx of Syrian refugees has increased the population density by about 37%, resulting in an overheated housing market, and haphazard and accelerated construction. Diminishing agricultural lands threatens food production. Lebanon has a severe deficiency of energy production and insufficient electricity distribution networks. In 2018, energy was only provided on average for 18.3 hours per day, increasing the use of private generators.

Articles related to this issue:

The War In Syria Batters The Environments Of Neighboring Countries

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The concentration of refugees in certain areas has caused natural resources such as water, forests and rangelands to degrade. Crop production has suffered heavily as a result of the conflict. Years of war and lack of investment have crippled Iraq's power infrastructure, causing frequent blackouts and stifling economic growth affecting day-to-day lives of its residents and refugees. Public sector lacks the resources to finance reconstruction.