Go to book Dried Marsh

Draining Life of Civilization into Dessert

Our marshes, our heritage, is gone

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We are descendants of the Sumerians, who have lived in the Mesopotamian wetlands for 5,000 years. But our village just died. We were pushed off our land and into the slums of a nearby city.

That day began much like any other for the our family in the marshlands of southern Iraq. But then, Saddam Hussein soon dispatched his engineers to divert the Tigris and Euphrates rivers away from the marshes. The effects were disastrous. No sooner had they paddled past the last of their neighbours’ floating reed houses than a squadron of government fighter jets emerged from the mist, guns blazing.

UNEP Geneva

The reduction of green color shows missing wetlands

Salt-Encrusted Lands from Marsh

"At that time, The water's just bad. It's so salty, my kids and my family cannot drink this water.

The animals could no longer drink the water because it was too salty. There were no fish, no grasses, so of course we couldn’t stay. The marshes once provided 60% of Iraq’s fish, but today supply practically none.

National Geographic

Martin Fletcher

An Iraqi fisherman sifts through 'a pathetic pile of tiny fish'