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On Syrian Refugees and Climate Change: The Risks of Oversimplifying and Underestimating the Connection

Syrian refugee camp on theTurkish border for displaced people of the Syrian civil war. Photo by Henry Ridgwell.

Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border, 2012. Photo by Henry Ridgwell.

It unfortunately took the heart-wrenching image of a dead Syrian child on a Turkish seashore to fully alert the international community to an unfolding disaster: the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. As the crisis ensues, many in the public eye have been asking the question: What is behind this extraordinary exodus? Essentially, what is the proximate cause? The answer to that question is straightforward. A brutal civil war in Syria has left many people with little choice but to flee. Some commentators are asking another question, however, that seeks to illuminate “ultimate” causes of an unstable Syria, and the current crisis. Namely: What were the conditions that led Syria to collapse, and how can we prevent these crises in the future? And in that context, does climate change have anything to do with it? The answer to that is complex, of course. (more…)

Relief Analysis Wire: Two Important Lessons for Syrian Food Aid

448px-Women_refugees_from_Syria_queue_to_register_on_arrival_at_the_Zaatari_camp_in_Jordan_(8423857990)This is a cross-post by Mehmet Burk from Relief Analysis Wire.

As one of the most staggering humanitarian crises in recent decades continues to rapidly accelerate in Syria, the ability to effectively deliver food aid to vulnerable populations is paramount. 4 million Syrians cannot access basic foods according to the World Food Programme, and escalating tensions will not help agricultural production. (more…)

Security Implications of Glacial Melt in Central Asia

The Central Asian region is of critical strategic importance to the United States and its NATO allies. That is why, on top of environmental and humanitarian concerns associated with the phenomenon, rapid glacial melt in the region should be a top concern for national security planners and practitioners. (more…)

Sharing Water After the Arab Spring

When the dust settles in the Arab world, there will be two major questions asked: who actually holds power now, and what are we going to do about water?

UPI recently reported on the numerous water-sharing agreements that are being negotiated and renegotiated as the nations of the Arab world simultaneously experience the institution-shaking phenomenon of the Arab Awakening, and an unusual string of punishing droughts (thanks to Andrew Holland at ASP for the heads up). (more…)

Kyrgyzstan: Climate Change, Water and Regional Security

The nation of Kyrgyzstan is a place of geopolitical importance, a provider of critical water resources for the Central Asian region, and a highly unstable place. It also sits in a neighborhood of mistrust, enjoying especially strained relations with Uzbekistan to the southwest, and existing in close proximity to large unstable nations to the east, such as Afghanistan. The effects of a changing climate, which are likely to impact the country’s and the region’s vital water resources, should thus be a matter for serious global and regional attention. (more…)

Eye on Iran: Lake Urmia, Water, Climate and Security in a Volatile Region

This blog also appeared on the humanitarian news site, AlertNet

The strategic position of Iran, straddling the energy-thruway that is the Strait of Hormuz, bordering, among other nations, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and sitting a mere 1,000 miles northeast of an anxious Israel, is unquestionably important. However, while the recent focus has been on whether or not Iran has the capability and the will to turn its domestic nuclear energy program into a nuclear weapons program, another human and economic disaster looms relatively unnoticed: the drying up of Lake Urmia in the country’s northwest – the largest lake in the Middle East. Given the current volatile political landscape surrounding Iran, this is worth a closer look. (more…)