Drought devastates ravaged Iraq

Drought has forced more than 100,000 people in northern Iraq to abandon their homes since 2005, with 36,000 more on the verge of leaving, UNESCO said this week. The four-year drought and excessive well-pumping have led to the collapse of an ancient system of underground aqueducts, or karez. Only 116 of 683 karez systems are currently operational, according to a study by the UN agency. The study finds 70% of active karez have dried up. (AP, Oct. 13)

A recent study by Iraqi Health Ministry’s Enhancing Health Directorate (EHD) has also found an alarming rise in cancer in recent years. The study noted that 340 cases of leukemia registered between 2001 and 2008 in Basra—compared with 17 cases in 1988 and 93 cases in 1997. The EHD chief in Basra governorate, Qusai Abdul-Latif Aboud, blamed war remnants in Iraq for the rise. The study also found that the amount of uranium in Basra’s soil had jumped from 60-70 becquerels per kilogram of soil before 1991 to 10,000 becquerels per kilogram in 2009. As much as 36,205 becquerels per kilogram have been recorded in areas with abandoned war remnants. The US-led coalition forces used depleted uranium as a “penetrator” at the core of armor-piercing tank rounds in the 1991 and 2003 wars. Amid growing reports of ill-health among veterans, an international campaign has sought a global ban on DU weapons. (IRIN, Oct. 14)

See our last post on Iraq and regional struggles for control of water.

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