Faced with sandstorms, the Iraqi government wants to plant trees

Baghdad suffered its first sandstorm of the year on March 31, 2023. © MURTADHA RIDHA / AFP

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This Friday, Iraq suffered its first sandstorm of the season. And the gradual desertification of the country aggravates the phenomenon.


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An orange veil reducing visibility, surfaces covered with a thin film of ochre dust and air that is difficult to breathe... Iraq suffered its first sandstorm of the season on Friday, reports our correspondent in Baghdad, Marie-Charlotte Roupie.

515 people were hospitalized, according to the Ministry of Health. Westerly winds carried large amounts of sand from al-Anbar province to the center of the country. This first major storm of 2023 arrives later than that of 2022, but worries just as much for the rest of the season. Health facilities have been ordered to be on alert.

Need for green belts to combat the phenomenon

Last year, Iraq experienced more than a dozen dust and sand storms in the spring, an unprecedented frequency. Droughts and falling river levels accentuate this phenomenon. Amer al-Jabri, spokesman for Iraq's meteorological directorate, told AFP that Iraq "lacks 'green belts' and clearing of agricultural land". The United Nations ranks Iraq among the five countries in the world most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Chia al-Soudani proposed in mid-March the planting of 5 million trees across the country to slow the effects of desertification. But this project will take time and its implementation depends on the vote of the long-awaited budget in the Iraqi Parliament. The environment minister has warned that the country could now experience 272 stormy days a year and up to 300 in 2050.

عاصفة ترابية تضرب محافظة #الانبار وتتجه نحو محافظات الوسط والجنوب.#العراق 🚨 #Iraq #Sandstorm

— طقس_العالم ⚡️ (@Arab_Storms) March 31, 2023

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  • Iraq
  • Natural disasters