PAX report Scorched Earth and Charred Lives shows a sharp increase in the number of makeshift refineries in Syria’s oil rich Deir ez-Zor governorate, in the past four years, with the most recent analysis based on satellite images from June 2016. There are likely tens of thousands of makeshift refineries in the region, in which adults and an alarming number of children work.
Amidst the urgency of the humanitarian response to support those feeling Syria, the environmental footprint of these population surges has been less visible but, as Jordan is discovering, failing to address the impact of migration during response and recovery could have serious health, environmental and political consequences.
The devastation wrought upon Syria has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, wounding many more and displacing millions across the region and beyond. They have left behind cities turned to rubble, ravaged towns and barren lands scarred by fighting. To mark the 5th anniversary we propose five priorities to address the damage it has caused to Syria’s environment.
For new and ongoing conflicts across the world, the need to document their impact on civilians and the environment upon which they depend is encouraging the development of new research tools and methodologies. With civilians increasingly able to access the Internet and mobile networks, new opportunities are being created for the collection of environmental data, by experts and civilians alike.
As the United States, Russia, and others step up attacks on oil infrastructure captured by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there is concern over their direct and long-term environmental and public health impacts.
The ongoing conflict in Syria is likely to have a disastrous impact on the environment and public health, according to a new study published by PAX. Four years of fighting has left cities in rubble and caused widespread damage to industrial sites, critical infrastructure and the oil industry.
The TRWP was recently asked to help identify a substance associated with partially detonated barrel bombs in Syria. While the irritant fumes and pink powdery residue appeared to be from TNT and not a chemical weapon, the health risks from exposure to this common explosive are increasingly well understood and should be taken into account when examining the civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Syria’s oil industry has begun to be targeted by the US. Military policies indicate that the environmental consequences of the strategy are low on the agenda but the move looks set to have direct and indirect impacts on Syria’s environment and people.