Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has expressed concern about the severe temperatures and drought currently affecting Iraq. He has stressed that these conditions should serve as a warning to the world and prompt urgent action.
Türk commented on his recent visit to Iraq, a country that is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change.
During his visit to Iraq, Türk witnessed the severe drought and extreme temperatures reaching up to fifty degrees Celsius in the southern region. He observed that the fields were barren and struggling under the harsh conditions.
During an interview with AFP in Baghdad, Türk expressed concern about the reality of rising temperatures, drought, and loss of diversity. He emphasized that this should serve as a wake-up call not just for Iraq but for the world as a whole. Türk further highlighted that understanding the situation of these communities is crucial to understanding our future.
Iraq has been ranked as the fifth country most affected by climate change by the United Nations for the fourth year in a row. The country is currently facing a prolonged drought due to reduced rainfall and increasing temperatures. This crisis is worsened by the dam construction by neighboring countries Turkey and Iran upstream of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which has resulted in decreased water levels in Iraq.
In July, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued a warning about the historic marshlands of southern Iraq (Al-Ahwar). They reported that the region was experiencing the most intense heatwave in forty years, which was leading to a significant decrease in water levels.
Türk mentioned a term used by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to describe the world entering a period of “global boiling”. According to Türk, this concept is not just a theory, but a daily occurrence in Iraq.
It is worth noting that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, has given great importance to mitigating climate change in his government’s agenda. Nevertheless, environmental activists have raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of the actions taken.
Türk has shown concern regarding the reports of “violence, intimidation, and death threats” against environmental activists. Jassem al-Asadi, a devoted activist who aims to protect the southern marshlands, was kidnapped by unknown individuals for two weeks in February, which is alarming.