Dust storms bring ‘more destruction’ to Middle East

i24NEWS

3 min read
A street vendor during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 16, 2022.
AP Photo/Hadi MizbanA street vendor during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 16, 2022.

Northern Iraq is particularly exposed, witnessing a sandstorm nearly every week since March

Apocalyptic scenes of orange skies and sandy haze in Syria and Iraq have sent thousands to hospitals since April, resulting in at least four deaths.

While hospitals in Syria are on standby for residents having trouble breathing, schools and offices in Iraq – which declared a state of emergency in May – are closed in some provinces due to dust storms, The Guardian reported.

The storms are affecting other Gulf states too: flights were halted in Kuwait and dust storm alerts were issued in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“The increasing frequency of dust storms means more problems, more loss of life and property, and more destruction,” said Nasim Hossein Hamzeh of Iran’s Air and Climate Technology Company.

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Northern Iraq is particularly exposed, witnessing a sandstorm nearly every week since March. 

Issa al-Fayyad of Iraq’s Environment Ministry said in May that the country faced an average of 272 dust storms a year. He predicted, though, that it will grow to 300 by 2050, with climate change playing a crucial role in the increase.

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In Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, people lived in dust storms for more than 35 days in the first four months of 2022, according to The Guardian.

“Dust storms do not just impact one country or specific location in the world and can have far-reaching consequences globally,” said Muge Akpinar-Elci of the University of Nevada in the United States.

Exposure to sandstorms can cause a myriad of health problems, given that they can carry harmful pollutants. In May, a series of storms forced some 5,000 people in Iraq to seek medical assistance for breathing issues, leading to one death.

In the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, three others died, The Associated Press reported.

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