By Will Higginbotham
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 2 2018 (IPS) - In Iraq, thirty years of armed conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, wounded countless more, displaced millions and laid cities and towns to waste.
Amongst all of this death and destruction, there is an often-overlooked victim whose harm has far reaching consequences: The environment.
Whilst Iraq’s environment has suffered from degradation due to conflict for decades, in recent years it has been exacerbated due to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
March 12 2015: While Iraq is still recovering from the environmental impact of both Gulf wars, it now faces new environmental problems caused by the current conflict against the Islamic State.
Since the uprising began in June 2014, fierce battles have taken place in and around cities and industrial areas, affecting the already precarious environmental situation.
• 1.9 MILLION IRAQIS OR 5.7% OF THE POPULATION ARE FOOD DEPRIVED, CONSUMING LESS THAN THE AVERAGE DIETARY ENERGY REQUIREMENTS OF 2,161 KILOCALORIES PER DAY.
• A FURTHER 4 MILLION IRAQIS OR 14% OF THE POPULATION ARE VULNERABLE TO FOOD INSECURITY
The Marshlands are of fundamental importance to Iraq, a unique eco-system providing local inhabitants with an essential source of habitat and livelihoods. Not only are the Marshlands an important national heritage and ecological area, but they have also played a vital role in the economic and social advancement of the people of Iraq.
At their peak the Marshlands were considered to be the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East, and they played an important role in global ecosystems by supporting rare wildlife and rich biodiversity.
NCCI’s brief provides an overview of what appear to be widespread, and often lethal, health effects from war contaminants in Iraq, namely Depleted Uranium (DU). Clearing DU-contaminated war remnants from areas across Iraq, as well as providing support to Iraqi victims of DU contamination, are critical issues for rebuilding this war-torn nation.
Since 2003, The UN Country Team, in cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), has supported humanitarian, reconstruction and development programmes, in areas ranging from immediate humanitarian assistance to modernization of state institutions.
Social service delivery, particularly in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, have been priority areas at local level and in all programmes particular attention has been paid to the situation of women, children and young people.