The United Nations’ human rights chief has warned that Iraq’s water crisis could affect other countries in the region
BAGHDAD — The United Nations’ human rights chief on Wednesday warned that Iraq’s water crisis could affect other countries in the region.
Severe water shortages in Iraq because of climate change and government mismanagement have destroyed wheat and fruit harvests, and killed off fish and livestock. Humanitarian organizations have warned for years that drought and mismanagement could deprive millions of people of water from the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, which also run through neighboring war-torn Syria.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk made the comments at a news conference in Baghdad following a four-day visit to the Iraqi capital, the oil-rich southern city of Basra and Irbil in the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Basra, where the mouth of the two rivers meet, has been hit hardest by the water crisis, turning areas once fertile into desert and forcing water purification systems to shut down because of rising salinity.
“Just yesterday (Tuesday), the minister of water resources announced that water levels in Iraq are the lowest they have ever been,” Türk said. ”What is happening here is a window into a future that is now coming for other parts of the world.”