A Call for Humanitarian Priorities

By Peter Jacques

Peter J. Jacques is Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida, where he teaches environmental security in the UCF Security Studies Ph.D. program, along with global and domestic environmental politics and sustainability.  Among other publications, he is author of Sustainability: the Basics published in 2015.

From 2007-2010, Syria suffered the worst drought since record-keeping. Amidst corruption and mismanagement, the drought caused crops to fail and over a million farmers abandoned their land for the cities. Not long afterward, social crisis in these cities ensued and then revolution. With the support of Russia and Iran, Syrian President Barshar Al-Assad repressed the uprising with brutal tools, like chemical weapons, pushing massive numbers of refugees into the neighboring countries and Europe—an example of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls “loss and damage,” which are climate impacts that will cause ghastly social damage because we will not adapt to them.

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) expanded in the bedlam, with important pushback by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey continues to bomb, highlighting the regions’ tangle of historic antagonisms. For those who remain in Syria, the situation is dire.  For instance, today, over two million people have been cut off from water in Aleppo. International assistance and diplomacy is imperative for the survival of these families.

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