F our years of war in Syria has caused one of the biggest refugee crises in history. About six million Syrians are displaced within Syria, three million have left the country. The intense fighting has damaged many residential and industrial areas in the towns and cities of Syria and civilians living in these areas face a range of threats.
Some of these threats come from environmental pollution generated or exacerbated by the conflict. Rubble, wastes, pollution from damaged industry and munitions residues may all present immediate and long-term threats to civilians and their environment. Nationally, governmental capacity to deal with the environmental consequences of the ongoing war is largely absent. And this does not bode well for the longer term security and safety of those civilians remaining in, or returning to Syria.
This desktop study does not provide a list of verified “hotspots” of environmental damage. The ongoing war in Syria does not currently allow for systematic field measurements in most areas of concern. What this desktop study does aim to do, is link known civilian exposure scenarios to known cases of possible or probable environmental pollution from the war in Syria. In doing so it considers pollution incidents in other conflicts and examples of peacetime military pollution. It also explores an experimental approach to assessing the toxic footprint of the constituents of conventional munitions.
This desktop analysis identifies four types of hazards – feasible scenarios in which the environmental impact of the conflict may have a direct and or long-term impact on the public health of the Syrian people.