from PAX, a Pax Christi International member organization
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. Pollution from these forms of damage is likely to result in acute and chronic risks to civilians and will have a long-term impact on the environment that they depend on.
“With the additional attacks by Russia in or near Aleppo, which has numerous industrial complexes processing hazardous chemicals, existing environmental and public health risks from the ongoing conflict will only be compounded,” cautioned report author Wim Zwijnenburg, researcher for PAX.
Analysis of the fighting, which is based on satellite imagery, social media monitoring and the reports of UN agencies, has found that that there are already major problems around locations where hazardous chemicals are stored and processed. Industrial facilities such as chemical industries and the oil industry as well as critical infrastructure such as power plants and water and sewage systems have sustained severe damage. The shelling of residential areas has caused the destruction of the majority of Syria’s housing stock. This has created millions of tonnes of rubble, some of which contains hazardous materials such as asbestos, heavy metals and the toxic residues from conventional weapons. The breakdown of waste collection and management as a result of the conflict has led to the accumulation of solid household and industrial wastes, which has increased the spread of communicable diseases…