Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council, Volker Turk, used Iraq as an example of the “environmental horror” the planet is facing as the global climate change crisis worsens.
“In Basra - where 30 years ago, I was told, date palms lined lush canals - drought, searing heat, extreme pollution and fast-depleting supplies of fresh water are creating barren landscapes of rubble and dust,” Turk said.
Iraq is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the United Nations.
“Last month, in Iraq, the cradle of so many civilizations, I witnessed a small piece of the environmental horror that is our global planetary crisis,” he stated.
The high commissioner in June visited Iraq and the Kurdistan Region where he met officials and discussed human rights issues, including climate change.
“This spiraling damage is a human rights emergency for Iraq - and many other countries,” Turk warned.
He decried the lack of unity among global leadership to tackle climate change, accusing them of instead adopting a “politics of division and distraction” as well as the “politics of indifference, the numbing of our mind and soul” referring to the lack of compassion to the increasing death of migrants.
“We do not need more warnings. The dystopian future is already here. We need urgent action, now,” he stated.
Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Rashid and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani have repeatedly addressed the challenges presented by the country’s water crisis and warned against the mismanagement of water resources.
The country is facing a severe water shortage because of reduced precipitation, higher temperatures, and waste and mismanagement. The crisis is worsened by upstream dams in Turkey and Iran that have led to a significant decrease in the volume of water entering the country.