A new dust storm hits Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

In pictures, in pictures — The latest dust storm to hit Iraq killed one person and forced about 10,000 people to go to hospitals for treatment of respiratory diseases.

Airports and public administrations in Iraq were forced to suspend their activities on Monday, May 23 due to another dust storm that caused respiratory problems for more than a thousand people before it hit Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Vehicles pass through a severe dust storm in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on May 23, 2022. Assad Niazi / Agence France-Presse

In Kuwait, the international airport suspended its flights. For the second time in less than a week, a thick cloud of dust covered the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and its symbolic landmarks, such as the Kingdom Center Tower. The Saudi Civil Defense warned that the storm would continue until dark. Since mid-April, Iraq, one of the five countries in the world most vulnerable to the effects of climate change according to the United Nations, has experienced at least nine dust and sand storms. On Monday in Baghdad, a cloud of gray dust floated over the nearly deserted streets and out of the usual traffic jams. South of the capital, near Najaf, shepherds and their flocks found themselves surrounded by the now familiar orange aura.

Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr told AFP that more than 1,000 people across Iraq had been treated in hospitals for respiratory diseases. The storm is expected to gradually dissipate, according to the weather services. right “Bad weather and violent dust stormsPrime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi had ordered the closurepublic institutionsWith a special exception for health departments and security agencies.

A woman walks amid a severe dust storm in Kuwait City, May 23, 2022. Yasser Al-Zayat / Agence France-Presse

“272 Dust Days”

Due to visibility of no more than 400 meters, Baghdad Airport suspended air traffic for a few hours during the day. Erbil International Airport in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (northern) announced this evening a new closure.Because of the thick dustWho returned, according to the state news agency INA. The thefts also stopped there for a few hours earlier in the day. Time and time again, airports have had to briefly suspend flights due to storms in recent weeks.

The recent dust storm in Iraq killed one person and sent nearly 10,000 people to hospitals for respiratory illnesses. These are mainly the elderly, or individuals with asthma, respiratory failure or heart disease, who are considered among the most at-risk groups, according to health authorities. “These dust storms usually arrive in the summer, but not at the same rate latelyEnter Saif Al-Hamza, a doctor in Baghdad Hospital. “The cases of suffocation have increased significantly compared to previous seasons.»

Two children settle in makeshift tents with their flock in the Al-Hiniyah district of Iraq, during a sandstorm that sweeps through the country, May 23, 2022. Qassem Al-Kaabi / AFP

Over the next two decades, Iraq must experience “272 Dust DaysIn the year and in 2050, the 300-day threshold will be reached, according to an official from the Ministry of the Environment. Among the measures recommended to combat this phenomenon, the authorities rightly referred to the establishment of green belts around cities “that act as windbreaks“, when “Desertification affects 39%Of the total area of ​​the country, according to the President of the Republic, Barham Salih.

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