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FAO Iraq contributes a story to the UN4U theme "Ways the UN Makes a Difference in Our Everyday Life" 2011


The Iraqi marshlands constitute the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East, with unique historical, cultural, hydrological and socio-economic significance. Since the 1970s, the marshlands have been damaged significantly, due to upstream dam construction and drainage operations by the former Iraqi regime. By the time this regime collapsed in 2003, the area’s rich biodiversity and unique cultural heritage had been almost entirely destroyed.

UNEP’s commitment to the Iraqi marshlands dates back to 2001, when the agency alerted the international community of satellite data showing that 90 per cent of the marshlands had already been lost. In a needs assessment initiative for the reconstruction of Iraq, extensive ecological damage to the area was identified by UNEP and the United Nations/World Bank as one of the country’s major environmental and humanitarian disasters. Such ecological damage had led to the displacement of much of the local population.