Dust storms in Iraq causing thousands to look for treatment — and it is only the beginning
Severe dust storms in central and southern Iraq have forced thousands to seek medical attention and hospitalizations over the past month. One person died due to the negative impact of dust storms.
The latest storm occurred in the capital city Baghdad, where more than 3,000 residents reported to medical facilities with cases of "suffocation" caused by asthma and other chronic diseases. Ministry of Health advised people in risk groups to stay indoors during and follow the announcements regarding air quality.
Though dust storms are common in the region, usually they hit Iraq in the summer months, accompanied by strong winds. Most residents say that cannot remember so many storms in such a short space of time. A definite cause yet to be established, but experts point out at climate change.
Last month, an environment ministry official Issa al-Fayad warned that Iraq could face "272 days of dust" a year in coming decades. Continuous drought and declining precipitation will drive even more severe dust storms, that could last for prolonged periods of time. According to the U.N. 2020-2021 rainfall season in Iraq was the second driest in 40 years, and summer temperatures regularly hit record highs.