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Friday, July 2, 1999 Published at 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK

World: Europe

British protest against Turkish dam

Their homes will be flooded if the dam project goes ahead

The environmental group Friends of the Earth has held a protest on Friday in London outside a government department that is considering British involvement in a controversial dam project in south-eastern Turkey.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is backing the UK company Balfour Beatty with £200m in a bid to build the Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris.

Chris Morris reports: "There's a price to be paid for progress"
The group says the proposed Ilisu dam would have a devastating environmental impact, flooding more than 60 towns and villages, and forcing hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes.

Friends of the Earth say, the project contravenes the UK Government's rules on ethical foreign policy and its recently announced environmental guidelines.

FoE spokesman Tony Juniper: "We urge the DTI to have a look at its own guidelines. While the UK Government urges the World Bank to uphold strict environmental standards, it is ignoring them here for the benefit of one company."

A solution to the Kurdish problem?

[ image: The Gap project: could it save the region?]
The Gap project: could it save the region?
The dam is part of the massive development programme, known as Gap, which Turkey hopes will create three million jobs in its mainly Kurdish south-east and help end the Kurdish insurgency.

The World Bank has refused to fund the Gap project for environmental reasons and because of fears it would increase the danger of cross-border conflict with Turkey's neighbours to the south.

Neighbouring Syria and Iraq are concerned that it will deprive them of water from the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

[ image: Hasankeyf : earmarked for flooding]
Hasankeyf : earmarked for flooding
The dam's reservoir will drown dozens of Kurdish towns along the Tigris valley, including the historic town of Hasankeyf.

Water war of words

Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters which Iraq and Syria depend on for fresh water.

Both Baghdad and Damascus have complained about the amount of water they have been getting since the completion of the first Turkish dams at the beginning of the 1990s.

They fear Turkey's ability to shut off their water supply in any possible future conflict.

[ image:  ]

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