Video On Demand

Running Dry: Exploring the Water Crisis in Syria

September 19, 2023 • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm EDT

The water crisis in Syria has reached a breaking point. Low water levels on the Euphrates River threaten drinking water for nearly five and half million people and electricity from hydropower for another three million in northeastern Syria. Contaminated groundwater is increasingly exploited for domestic and agricultural purposes. Waterborne diseases like cholera have traversed borders, and typhoid cases are increasing, adding to the urgency of the sanitation situation in the country.

Please join the Middle East Program for an event that sheds light on how the water crisis in Syria affects local communities with a focus on the political, financial, and social obstacles to alleviating water insecurity. This discussion will be moderated by Natasha Hall and features a panel of experts who have been working on these issues on-the-ground from civil society groups to humanitarian practitioners and journalists, including: Marjolaine Bos, former Northeast Syria Forum water and sanitation coordinator; Simaf Hassan from Syrians for Truth and Justice; Dr. Marie Schellens from PAX for Peace; Peter Schwartzstein, acclaimed environmental journalist; and Dr. Nadeen Taha from Sada Youth Team. 

To attend the webinar live, please register here: 

Speakers' Bios

Marjolaine Bos

Marjolaine Bos is the former water and sanitation coordinator for the Northeast Syria Forum (NES Forum), which is the lead coordination body for NGOs working cross-border from Iraq and from within NES into SDF-controlled areas of Aleppo, Deir-ez-Zor, Ar- Raqqa, and Al-Hasakeh governorates in Syria.

Bos will discuss the humanitarian and development crisis in northeastern Syria and delve into the roles and responsibilities of the autonomous administration of North and East Syria (AANES), NGOs, the United Nations, diplomats, and regional states with regard to water security.

Simaf Hassan

Simaf Hassan is an advocacy and communications officer at Syrians for Truth and Justice, which documents human rights abuses, including violations of the right to water. She holds a law degree.

Hassan will focus on her recent research on water security in the region, highlighting the Alouk water station. 

Dr. Marie Schellens 

Marie Schellens is an environmental researcher at PAX for Peace, an international civil society organization based in the Netherlands. She supports their evidence-based advocacy on environment, peace, and security through remote sensing and geospatial analysis. Using earth observation, she identifies and monitors environmental damage impacting the lives and livelihoods of people in conflict zones. Before joining PAX, she worked as an environmental security analyst at the UN Environment Programme. She was a Marie Curie Ph.D. fellow at Stockholm University and the University of Iceland, researching the role of natural resources in conflict risk.

Marie will present recent findings from a report on the Orontes Basin.

Peter Schwartzstein

Peter Schwartzstein is an environmental journalist who reports on water, food security, and the conflict-climate nexus across some 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and occasionally further afield. He mostly writes for National Geographic, but his work has also appeared in The New York Times, BBC, Foreign Affairs, and many other outlets. He is a global fellow with the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program, a TED fellow, and a fellow at the Center for Climate and Security. He is currently working on a book about climate-related violence.

Schwartzstein will discuss the connection between water scarcity and environmental degradation and security in the region.

Dr. Nadeen Taha

Nadeen Taha is a women’s rights activist who works with Sada Youth Team, a local civil society organization operating in northwestern Syria. She has extensively worked on issues related to women’s rights, gender-based violence, and peacebuilding. Taha holds a Ph.D. in science. 

Taha will discuss her recent research on water issues in northwest Syria. 

This event is made possible through support by Bahaa Rafic Hariri.

Contact Information


Marjolaine Bos

Former Water and Sanitation Coordinator for the Northeast Syria Forum

Simav Hassan

Advocacy and Communications Officer, Syrians for Truth and Justice

Marie Schellens

Environmental Researcher, PAX for Peace

Peter Schwartzstein

Environmental Journalist

Nadeen Taha

Women’s Rights Activist & Member of Sada Youth Team