Baghdad International Airport was temporarily closed Monday due to a new dust storm that hit the Iraqi capital, a phenomenon that has increased sharply in recent months in this semi-desert country. Since mid-April, Iraq has experienced no less than ten sand and dust storms in the space of a few weeks. The authorities present Iraq as one of the five countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and desertification.
Monday morning, a thick white dust covered Baghdad and its surroundings. Visibility did not exceed a few hundred meters. As a result, the management of the airport of the Iraqi capital announced the temporary suspension of flights. In Najaf, a Shiite holy city in central Iraq that welcomes millions of pilgrims from all over the world every year, the airport briefly suspended operations in the morning before reopening after a few hours, thanks to an improvement conditions.
More than 300 days per year in 2050
Airports have already been forced to briefly suspend flights several times in recent weeks. In May, sandstorms that hit Iraq killed one person while thousands of people had to be treated in hospital for respiratory problems.
Iraq, which is entering a scorching summer with temperatures approaching 50 degrees, is expected to experience “272 days of dust” per year in the next two decades and in 2050, the threshold of 300 days will be reached, according to an official from the Ministry of the Environment. In early June, Iraqi President Barham Saleh called for making the fight against climate change “a national priority for Iraq, because it is an existential threat for future generations”.