BAGHDAD (MEMO) – Iraq will suffer further water shortages, while Yemen will experience greater floods and increased risk of waterborne diseases as a result of climate change, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned in a new report.
The shocking publication laid bare the bleak future the Middle East and North Africa will face as climate change increases. ‘Displacement in a Changing Climate’ urges action to address the impact of climate-related displacement, and to take action before the problem intensifies and put aside funding to adapt to climate change and disaster risk reduction.
It found that the hardest hit communities will be the poorest in the world, already marginalized by factors like war and disaster.
This comes as governments prepare to meet in Glasgow for COP26; a much anticipated meeting on tackling climate change, with IFRC hoping this report will up the pressure on participants to reach a settlement on tackling climate consequences.
IFRC’s report detailed the impact of climate change on the already dire situation in Yemen, which is undergoing a humanitarian crisis and a Saudi-led war, and cited extreme flooding in 2020, which exacerbated deadly diseases such as cholera, dengue, diphtheria and malaria.
In July, Yemen was once again wracked by storms and torrential flooding, destroying 5,400 homes, another 5,100 damaged. An estimated 174,000 people were affected by the extreme weather, and 30 died.
Yemen Red Crescent, which has worked in Yemen extensively during the conflict, said its resources were depleted by this event, and it was now forward planning to factor in extreme weather, such as flooding and storms.
The report went on to detail the water crisis Iraq is experiencing, citing the effects of climate change as a factor exacerbating the impact of conflict and water mismanagement, predicting a bleak future for the country.
Iraq’s mean annual temperature will increase by two degrees, the report warned, and average rainfall will decrease by nine centimeters by 2050 on the current trajectory, which will lead to ever more frequent heatwaves and droughts.
Desertification, already a problem in Iraq due to depleting water supplies from main rivers Tigris and Euphrates, is said to be risking around 54 percent of the land, with currently only 28 percent being arable.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC secretary general, said: “Drought in Iraq, bushfires in Australia, floods in Germany, cyclones in Mozambique – climate-related disasters are happening everywhere right now forcing millions of people to leave their homes. At COP26 and beyond, we will make clear that urgent action and investment at the local level is needed to protect communities from climate-related displacement and to respond to its devastating impact when it occurs.”