New dust storm hits Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

IN IMAGES, PICTURES – The last two dust storms to hit Iraq have killed one person and forced around 10,000 to go to hospitals for treatment of respiratory ailments.

Airports and public administrations in Iraq were forced to suspend operations Monday (23 May) after another dust storm triggered respiratory problems in more than a thousand people before hitting their neighbors in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Vehicles drive amid a severe dust storm in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq, on May 23, 2022. Asaad NIAZI / AFP

In Kuwait, the international airport suspended flights. And for the second time in less than a week, a thick cloud of dust has covered the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and its emblematic monuments, such as the Kingdom Center tower. The Saudi Civil Defense warned that the storm would continue into the evening. Since mid-April, Iraq, one of the five most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change, according to the UN, has experienced at least nine dust and sandstorms. On Monday in Baghdad, a cloud of grayish dust flew over the almost deserted streets, easing the usual traffic jams. South of the capital, near Najaf, the shepherds and their flocks found themselves in a familiar orange halo.

Health ministry spokesman Saif al-Badir told AFP that more than a thousand people across Iraq are being treated in hospitals for respiratory ailments. The storm is expected to gradually dissipate, according to the meteorology statement. expired”bad weather and the arrival of severe dust stormsHe ordered the closure of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi.public institutionsespecially excluding health departments and security agencies.

A woman walks in the midst of a severe dust storm in Kuwait City on May 23, 2022. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

“272 days of powder”

Due to the visibility not exceeding 400 meters, Baghdad airport suspended air traffic for several hours during the day. Erbil International Airport in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan (north) announced a new closure in the evening “due to heavy dustwho is back, according to the state news agency INA. The robberies had also stopped here for a few hours earlier in the day. Airports have repeatedly had to briefly suspend flights due to storms in recent weeks.

The last two dust storms to hit Iraq have killed one person and forced around 10,000 to go to hospitals for treatment for respiratory ailments. According to health officials, these are the elderly or people with asthma, respiratory failure or heart disease who are considered the main risk categories. “These dust storms usually come in the summer, but not at their recent pace.He accepted Seyf Al Hamza, a doctor at a hospital in Baghdad. “Drowning cases have increased significantly compared to previous seasons.»

During a sandstorm that ravaged the country on May 23, 2022, two children are settling in makeshift tents next to their herd in Iraq’s al-Henniyah region. Qasim al-KAABI / AFP

In the next twenty years, Iraq272 days powderAccording to an official from the Ministry of Environment, the 300-day threshold will be reached annually and by 2050. Among the proposed measures to combat this phenomenon, the authorities rightly point out the creation of green belts around cities.acting as a windbreak“, When “desertification affects 39%The total area of ​​the country according to President Barham Saleh.