Carp ‘annihilated’ as Iraq’s water pollution woes worsen

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Dead carp float in the Euphrates river, near the town of Hindiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
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Government employees collect dead carp from the Euphrates River, near the town of Hindiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Carp ‘annihilated’ as Iraq’s water pollution woes worsen

HINDIYAH, Iraq: Iraqi officials and fishermen are at a loss to explain how hundreds of tons of carp have suddenly died in fish farms in the Euphrates River, fueling anxieties about soaring water pollution.
Local authorities used excavators to skim dead fish from the river surface near the town of Hindiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, where residents and local farmers have long complained about substandard water management.
The fish were being farmed in cages for sale in domestic markets, where grilled carp is considered a national dish, called masgouf.
Ayad Talibi, head of Iraq’s Fish Producers’ Syndicate, called it “annihilation” and a blow to the country’s “strategic fish reserve.”
Water pollution and scarcity have been on the forefront of Iraqi discourse after matters reached crisis levels last summer.
Health officials said some 100,000 people were taken to hospital for stomach illnesses in the southern Basra province, where sludge and yellow water was recorded flowing out of the taps. Demonstrators rioted, demanding better services.
Iraqi officials could not say for certain what caused the fish die out. Wissam Muslani, deputy governor for Babil province, which includes Hindiyah, said initial tests suggested it was the result of a virus that infected the gills.
But scientists speculated in media that the annihilation may have caused by low oxygen levels, agricultural runoff or wastewater pollution.
Ali Akbar, a medical officer for the World Health Organization, called it a “man-made disaster,” and advised Iraqis to stop eating fish.
“My first message is that make sure nobody eats any fish. And my second message is make sure that no fisherman does fishing these days until all this is cleaned,” he said.
Photos and video of the carp-clogged Euphrates have had an immediate impact on fish sales, according to fishmongers from Hindiyah to Baghdad.
Ali Ibrahim, a vendor by the side of the highway outside Hindiyah, said he was closing his stall and returning to his family.
“People are no longer eating fish,” said Ibrahim. “It’s all over.”


UN envoy: No access for UN peacekeepers to Lebanon tunnels

Updated 23 January 2019
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UN envoy: No access for UN peacekeepers to Lebanon tunnels

  • Cohen accused Hezbollah, an Iranian ally, of threatening international peace and security
  • Danon alleged that Iran funnels $7 billion to militant groups across the region

UNITED NATIONS: The UN's envoy to the Mideast said Tuesday that peacekeepers in Lebanon have not been given access to tunnels stretching into Israel, which UN officials say violate a case-fire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping mission known as UNIFIL has confirmed that two tunnels crossed the UN-drawn Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, but “has not been granted access to the confirmed entry points of a tunnel near Kfar Kila on the Lebanese side.”
He did not say whether Lebanon’s government or the Hezbollah militant group was blocking access for UNIFIL, but US deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen blamed the government.
Cohen accused Hezbollah, an Iranian ally, of threatening international peace and security with the extensive tunneling exposed by Israel, which has reported uncovering six tunnels into its territory.
“We commend UNIFIL’s work to keep the Blue Line under control, but it is unacceptable that the Lebanese government has not yet given UNIFIL access to the tunnel entrance on their side of the Blue Line,” Cohen told the council.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon complained to the council that “the Lebanese army has taken no action in response, allowing Hezbollah to continue building these tunnels undisturbed.”
Danon alleged that Iran funnels $7 billion to militant groups across the region, including $1 billion to Hezbollah, which he said has “grand plans to take over the Israeli Galilee” and invests millions in every tunnel. He provided no information on how Israel calculated its estimate of Iranian spending, which also included $4 billion to the Syrian government, “hundreds of millions” to Iran’s proxies in Iraq, tens of millions to Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen, $70 million to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and $50 million to Hamas, which controls Gaza.
Mladenov noted that Lebanon has been without a government for over eight months and called on all parties to resolve their differences so the country “can address the man pressing challenges it faces, including that of a struggling economy.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mladenov said that “we should have no illusions about the dangerous dynamics ... which continue to unfold before our eyes” and have eroded “the possibility of establishing a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.”
He pointed to Israel’s latest new settlement plans and approvals, nearly half to be built deep in the West Bank, which the Palestinians say must be part of their state. He also cited “additional attempts to pass legislation that would directly apply Israeli law to the territory of the occupied West Bank, raising fears of future annexation.”
Mladenov said the chance for peace opened more than 25 years ago with the Oslo accords, which were enshrined in UN resolutions and bilateral agreements, but has “eroded as the prospect for credible negotiations has dimmed, only to be replaced by the lack of hope and the growing risk of a one-state reality of perpetual occupation.”
He urged both sides to recommit to the principles in those agreements — that key issues can be resolved only through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, told the council that last year “Israel’s illegal occupation became more entrenched, more brutal and extreme” with the political process “deadlocked.”
“Day by day, the occupation is destroying the two-state solution and sowing deep despair among our people,” he said.
But despite “the dismal situation,” Mansour said, Palestinians “remain committed to non-violence, dialogue and the objectives of peace” and negotiations on a two-state solution. He urged regional and international efforts “to help overcome the impasse and contribute to the realization of a just solution as a matter of urgency.”