For the eighth time in a month, a sandstorm swept across Iraq today. Once again, part of daily life came to a standstill. In much of the country, airports, universities and government departments were forced to close their doors. School exams have also been postponed by one day.
The thick clouds of dust color the sky in Iraq orange. The sand not only covers roofs, streets and cars, but also creeps into the houses.
Many people on the street wear a face mask:
Due to the sandstorms, thousands of Iraqis with breathing difficulties have now been treated in hospitals. Elderly people and people with chronic respiratory disease and heart problems are most at risk. Even today, hundreds of people in the capital Baghdad and other cities had to go to the hospital with breathing difficulties.
Iraq is more likely to suffer from sandstorms, but experts say the current frequency is unprecedented. The causes they mention are drought, rapid desertification and climate change.
Drought and extreme temperatures dry up farmland. In recent years, record temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius have been measured. Climate activists are blaming the Iraqi government, which would not prioritize combating climate change.
The Iraqi government has previously said that due to dam projects in Turkey and Iran, less river water flows into Iraq. According to the government, this means that water reserves have decreased by 50 percent compared to last year, which makes the soil drier and more susceptible to sandstorms.
fact is that it is raining less and less in Iraq and the water supply has been declining for years. Last month, an official from the Ministry of Environment warned that Iraq could face 272 days of dust a year for the next twenty years.