Iraq appeals to UN for help tackling threats from climate change

UNITED NATIONS, New York – Crumbling infrastructure after decades of conflict, rising temperatures, and desertification are threatening the security of Iraq today, the country’s water minister said at the United Nations this week.

“The rise in temperatures and war on terrorism that displaced millions of people to areas without any services have had a severe impact on the people,” Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi said in an interview with UN News this week.

Janabi attended a special session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday dedicated to climate change where he pointed out the harm already taking place in Iraq.

“The combined effect of climate change and the operational modes of large dams have led to a decline in the rate of inflows in the Euphrates River by 50 percent over the last 20 years. About 90 percent of historically fertile Iraqi soil is facing desertification in varying degrees,” he told the chamber.

The Middle East, an inherently dry region of the world, has been under a severe drought for at least seven years.

An advocate for the world’s indigenous peoples, Hindou Ibrahim, warned that climate change could lead to an increase in terror activity.

“Man has the responsibility to feed his family. If he cannot do that, it’s a big humiliation. Either they have to join terror groups… or they have to leave the place where they are,” she told the Security Council session.

Ibrahim is a member of the Policy Board of the UN – Indigenous Peoples Partnership.

Janabi officially requested international backing to counter Iraq’s water crisis.

What assistance could be forthcoming is not immediately clear.

“Our view is that climate change is a grave threat, however the council has no specialized expertise nor the mechanism to a craft viable solution for this matter,” said Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN.