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UNAMI Warns of Water Scarcity in Iraq

UNAMI Warns of Water Scarcity in Iraq

Wednesday, 23 March, 2022 - 06:15
Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert briefs the Security Council on 3 March, 2020. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, voiced concern over water shortage and ineffective management of water resources in Iraq.

The warnings of the UN representative, which she addressed to political leaders through a message distributed by the UNAMI mission, come as the country faces a severe drought and a decline in the water levels of most of Iraq’s rivers.

“In Iraq, water resources’ availability and proper management are particularly significant,” Hennis-Plasschaert tweeted. “Last month, I visited the Mesopotamian Marshes in the south, witnessing firsthand the many challenges Iraq faces.”

She continued: “Lower precipitation, water shortages, salinization of soils and water, ineffective management of resources, and population growth have all taken their toll throughout the country… In addition to climate change, the active reduction of water inflows from neighboring countries is another serious threat.”

The message, which was published on World Water Day 2022, stressed that water scarcity’s impact on poverty, displacement, and conflict would have grave implications for Iraq’s stability and long-term prosperity.

Iraq has complained for years about the water policies of its neighbors, Turkey and Iran. The two countries have prevented sufficient flow of water from reaching the territory of Iraq, by building dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in the case of Turkey, and by diverting the rivers’ courses and not allowing them to reach the Iraqi tributaries, in the case of Iran.

“Iraq’s neighbors should be engaged in meaningful discussions on water sharing and resource management,” the UN special representative stated, adding: “The United Nations family is working in partnership with Iraq on water resource management, and all of us can do our part by seeking to limit our impact on the environment.”

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