Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity

Special Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity
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Flash floods overturned vehicles and destroyed infrastructure in the Mediterranean coastal city of Derna, eastern Libya, on Sept. 10, 2023 (left) two days after a powerful earthquake in Morocco shook the Old City of Marrakech (right). (AFP photos)
Special Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity
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Jordanian soldiers prepare to load humanitarian aid on a plane at the Marka military airport in Amman on September 13, 2023, to be flown to Libya, where devastating flash floods killed at least 5,000 people and displaced at least 30,000 more. (AFP)
Special Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity
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Streets a flooded after storm Daniel in Marj, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2023. (Libya Almasar TV via AP)
Special Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity
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This image grab from handout video released by the Libyan Red Crescent on September 13, 2023 shows volunteers carrying a body bag during search operations after deadly floods in the east of the country. (The Libyan Red Crescent via AFP)
Special Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity
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Floodwaters from Mediterranean storm Daniel are visible in the Libyan coastal city of Derna on Sept. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Jamal Alkomaty)
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Updated 14 September 2023
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Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity

Middle East countries respond to Morocco earthquake, Libya flooding with aid and solidarity
  • A 6.8 magnitude quake struck Morocco’s Atlas Mountains south of Marrakech on Friday, killing nearly 3,000
  • Two river dams burst on Sunday in Libya’s coastal city of Derna, killing at least 5,000, with thousands still missing

NAIROBI/LONDON: North Africa suffered two disasters in three days when a devastating earthquake struck Morocco on Friday, followed by catastrophic flooding in Libya on Sunday, leaving thousands dead and many more missing, sparking a global aid response.

On Friday night, a powerful earthquake, measuring 6.8 in magnitude, struck high in the Atlas Mountains about 70 km south of Marrakech, flattening whole villages, killing at least 2,900 people and leaving thousands more homeless.

In Morocco’s Al-Haouz province, isolated farming communities have been left cut off, with many fending entirely for themselves. It was the North African country’s deadliest earthquake since 1960 and its most powerful in more than a century.

Just as aid agencies and donor nations were rolling out their response to this catastrophe, another disaster was unfolding to the east in crisis-torn Libya, where Storm Daniel caused two river dams to burst on Sunday afternoon.

The enormous surge of water released by the dams tore through the Mediterranean coastal city of Derna, sweeping buildings, vehicles and people into the sea. The confirmed death toll surpassed 5,000 on Wednesday, with thousands more still unaccounted for.

“Libya’s situation is a roller coaster. We’ve been through so much — conflicts, political ups and downs, and now these floods adding to the chaos,” Mohammed Thabit, a Tripoli-based citizen journalist, told Arab News.

“But remember, we’re a resilient bunch. We’ve faced worse and we’ll keep pushing for a brighter tomorrow, no matter the challenges.”




This grab from a video published on the Facebook account of the Libyan Red Crescent on September 11, 2023, shows members of their team assisting drivers whose cars are engulfed in floods in al-Bayda town in eastern Libya. (Basma Badran, Libyan Red Crescent via AFP)

The city of Derna, 300 km east of Benghazi, is ringed by hills and bisected by what is normally a dry riverbed in summer, which became a raging torrent of mud-brown water that also swept away several major bridges.

Derna was home to about 100,000 people and many of its multistory buildings on the banks of the riverbed collapsed, with people, their homes and cars vanishing into the raging waters.




Emergency members work near a building destroyed when a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit the city of Derna in Libya on September 12, 2023. (Screen grab from social media video by Ali M. Bomhadi/via REUTERS)

“In the face of these devastating floods in Libya, it’s a heartbreaker,” Thabit said. “Our dams got some funding, but it seems some folks ran off with the money instead of fixing things. Tough times, but we’re tougher.”

The Libyan Presidential Council has declared the cities of Derna, Shahat and Al-Bayda in Cyrenaica disaster zones and requested international support to confront the effects of the floods caused by the storm.

 

FASTFACTS

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck high in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains about 70 km south of Marrakech on Friday, killing at least 2,900 people.

In Libya’s coastal city of Derna, Storm Daniel caused two river dams to burst on Sunday, killing at least 5,000 people, with thousands still missing.

Offers of assistance for Libya and Morocco have come from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Tunisia and Turkiye.

Libya is in effect under the control of two rival administrations: the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and authorities based along with the parliament in the east.

“The humanitarian needs are huge and far beyond the abilities of the Libyan Red Crescent and even beyond the abilities of the government,” Tamar Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya, said in a statement to the UN.

“That’s why the government in the east has issued an international appeal for support.”




12, 2023. Scientists say the storm is just the latest extreme weather event to carry some hallmarks of climate change. (AP Photo/Jamal Alkomaty)

Margaret Harris, spokesperson for the World Health Organization, said the flooding was of “epic” proportions.

“There’s not been a storm like this in the region in living memory, so it’s a great shock,” she said.

There is also concern for the hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from more than 40 countries who use Libya as a jumping-off point to reach Europe and who have likely been caught up in the floods.




Rescue search through the rubble of an earthquake-damaged house in Imi N'Tala village near Amizmiz in Morocco on September 13, 2023. (AFP)

With global concern spreading about both disasters, several nations have offered aid and deployed rescue teams to Derna and isolated villages across Morocco to help survivors and retrieve the bodies of their loved ones from the rubble.

Offers of assistance came from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Tunisia and Turkiye. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday expressed solidarity with “Libya and its brotherly people, and the victims of the floods.”

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier ordered aid flights to Morocco, and the crown prince called King Mohammed VI to affirm the Kingdom’s solidarity with the Moroccan people.




Villagers and rescuers recite a prayer in front of the body of an earthquake in the village of Imi N'Tala near Amizmiz on September 13, 2023. AFP) 

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has declared a three-day mourning period and directed military personnel to provide humanitarian aid, including relief teams, rescue equipment and shelter camps for Libya and Morocco.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, president of the UAE, ordered the dispatch of urgent relief and search and rescue teams to Libya, deploying two aid planes carrying 150 tons of food, relief and medical supplies.

A Kuwaiti flight took off on Wednesday with 40 tons of supplies for Libya, while Jordan sent a military plane loaded with food parcels, tents, blankets and mattresses.




A woman reacts by the rubble of destroyed buildings in the aftermath of the deadly 6.8-magnitude September 8 earthquake in the village of Imi N'Tala near Amizmiz in central Morocco on September 10, 2023. (AFP)

None of this has detracted from the Moroccan earthquake response. Rescuers from Spain, the UK and Qatar are helping local search teams to find survivors.

Many villagers in Morocco have had no power or telephone network since the earthquake struck and have had to rescue loved ones and pull dead bodies from under their crushed homes without any assistance.

The UN estimated that more than 300,000 people had been affected, a third of them children, by the powerful seismic event that hit just after 11 p.m. when most families were asleep.

Moroccans have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of adversity, but as rescue teams race against the clock to locate survivors, experts say restoring a sense of normality should be the priority.




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“While buildings and towns can be rebuilt through reconstruction efforts,” it is the “going back to normal for the survivors which is the biggest challenge,” Karim Wafa Al-Hussaini, a historian with roots in Morocco, told Arab News.

“Instilling a renewed sense of normal among the population will be definitely one of the biggest challenges throughout and after the reconstruction projects.”

The earthquake has underscored the fragility of buildings in Morocco’s rural areas, constructed using traditional Amazigh building techniques. Climate change has also left its mark, rendering the structures more susceptible to devastation.

Fatima Ahouli, director of operations with the Morocco-based Imal Initiative for Climate and Development, believes these latest incidents underscore the need for investment in infrastructure designed to cope with natural disasters and extreme weather events.

“This entails the construction of robust infrastructure, such as educational institutions and healthcare facilities, capable of enduring the rigors of severe weather events, all while fostering sustainable resource management practices,” she said.

Morocco’s King Mohammed has launched assessments to evaluate the structural damage and the feasibility of rebuilding the hardest-hit regions. Nevertheless, rescue operations have incurred criticism amid the rising death toll.

Meanwhile, in Marrakech, where state assistance for survivors has been most immediate, many modern buildings remained unscathed by the tremors. Several of the city’s famous historical sites, however, were not so fortunate.

“The earthquake’s fury primarily targeted ancient buildings, some dating back centuries, constructed using traditional clay methods once prevalent in Marrakech,” Yassine Soussi Temli, managing partner at the investment firm Maghreb Capital Advisers, told Arab News.

“The city’s distinctive architectural heritage has borne the brunt of the earthquake’s wrath.”


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Reports in the Moroccan media confirmed the collapse of sections of the Tinmel Mosque. Images circulating online depict crumbling walls, a partially fallen tower and sizable heaps of debris.

UNESCO has been apprised of the damage caused to the mosque, which had been nominated for inclusion on its prestigious list of World Heritage Sites, and is planning to send a team to assess its extent.

While some structures within Marrakech’s Old City, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sustained significant damage, other revered sites escaped largely unscathed.




An earthquake survivor kneels to pray in front of a damaged house in the village of Ighermane near Adassil in central Morocco on September 13, 2023. (AFP)

Jemaa El-Fnaa Square, for example, a bustling tourist attraction teeming with vibrant markets, street vendors and gardens, appeared to have weathered the earthquake’s impact relatively unharmed.

The Kutubiyya Mosque, which stands over the square, also remained structurally sound, although there were reports of cracks in sections of the Old City’s iconic red earth walls.

The economic impact of the earthquake is multi-faceted. Although a major tourist destination, Marrakech is not the primary engine of Morocco’s economic growth. That role is reserved for the Rabat-Casablanca axis, the nation’s industrial powerhouse.

Furthermore, the burgeoning region of Tangier, with its thriving port, promises considerable economic potential.




People who were displaced by the earthquake carry humanitarian aid to their tents in the town of Imi N'tala, outside Marrakech, Morocco, on Sept. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) 

The earthquake will inevitably have an impact on Marrakech’s economy but the government has insisted that the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and IMF will go ahead as planned from Oct. 9-15.

“Morocco’s economic performance, prior to the earthquake, had showcased resilience in the face of global challenges,” Temli said. “The nation had navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and managed inflationary pressures with commendable poise. Morocco had even emerged as a major recipient of foreign direct investment in North Africa.

“I am pretty sure that the government will put all the measures necessary to quickly rebuild the city of Marrakech so that it will continue to receive the millions of tourists it does every year.”

 


Rocket fire reported off Yemen in Red Sea in a new suspected attack by Houthi rebels

A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen. (REUTERS file photo)
A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 28 February 2024
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Rocket fire reported off Yemen in Red Sea in a new suspected attack by Houthi rebels

A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen. (REUTERS file photo)
  • The attack comes as the Houthis continue a series of assaults at sea over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and as the US and its allies launch airstrikes trying to stop them

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: A rocket exploded late Tuesday night off the side of a ship traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, authorities said, the latest suspected attack to be carried out by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The attack comes as the Houthis continue a series of assaults at sea over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and as the US and its allies launch airstrikes trying to stop them.
The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center, which oversees shipping in the Mideast, reported the attack happened about 110 kilometers (70 miles) off the coast of the Houthi-held port city of Hodeida. The rocket exploded several miles off the bow of the vessel, it said.
“The crew and vessel are reported to be safe and are proceeding to next port of call,” the UKMTO said.
The private security firm Ambrey reported that the vessel targeted appeared to be a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier in the area at the time. Another ship, a Panama-flagged, Emirati-owned chemical tanker was nearby as well, Ambrey said.
The Associated Press could not immediately identify the vessels involved.
The Houthis typically take several hours to claim their assaults and have not yet done so for the assault late Tuesday.
Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo for Iran, the Houthis’ main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.
Despite over a month of US-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels remain capable of launching significant attacks. Last week, they severely damaged a ship in a crucial strait and downed an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars. The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition.

 


Israelis vote for municipal councils in test of public mood

Israelis vote for municipal councils in test of public mood
Updated 28 February 2024
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Israelis vote for municipal councils in test of public mood

Israelis vote for municipal councils in test of public mood
  • Most Palestinians in east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in 1967 and later annexed, have the right to vote in municipal elections but not for parliament

JERUSALEM: Israelis voted Tuesday in twice postponed municipal elections that could offer a gauge of the public mood nearly five months into the war against Hamas in Gaza.
Soldiers had already cast their ballots over the past week at special polling stations set up in army encampments in Gaza as fighting raged.
Polls opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) and closed at 10:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, at which point turnout stood at around 49 percent, according to election authorities.
That was down from 59.5 percent in 2018.
Turnout in Jerusalem was 30.8 percent and in Tel Aviv it was 40 percent, the authorities said.
More than seven million people were eligible to vote in the elections for local councils across most of Israel, in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in Jerusalem and in parts of the annexed Golan Heights.
No major incidents were reported.
The vote, first scheduled for October 31, has been pushed back to November 2024 in towns and villages bordering the besieged Gaza Strip or Lebanon, where Hamas ally Hezbollah has fired rockets at Israel almost daily since the start of the Gaza war.
Nearly 150,000 Israelis have been displaced by hostilities in those areas.
Amit Peretz, 32, a Jerusalem city council candidate, said Jerusalem’s diverse make-up demands that “all voices are heard in the city in order to make everything work, because it’s very complex.”
Gita Koppel, an 87-year-old resident of Jerusalem, said she turned out because voting was “the only way you can have your voice heard.”
“I hope the right people come in and do the right thing for Jerusalem,” she said.
The elections were delayed after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 29,878 people in Gaza, most of them women and minors, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
Two candidates for council chief in Gaza border areas were killed in the October 7 attack: Ofir Libstein in Kfar Aza and Tamar Kedem Siman Tov, who was shot dead at her home in Nir Oz with her husband and three young children.
In Jerusalem and other major cities, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish candidates aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political allies were running against government critics and more moderate candidates.
Netanyahu has faced increasing public pressure over the fate of hostages still held in Gaza, and from a resurgent anti-government protest movement.
Tel Aviv’s mayor of 25 years, Ron Huldai, is seeking re-election in a race against former economy minister Orna Barbivai, who could become the first woman in the job.
Lawyer Amir Badran, an Arab candidate who had initially announced he would run for Tel Aviv mayor, quit the race before election day but was still vying for a city council seat.
In Jerusalem, another Arab candidate, Sondos Alhoot, was running at the head of a joint Jewish-Arab party. If elected, she would be the first Arab woman on the city council since 1967.
The elections for municipal and regional councils are largely seen as local affairs, though some races can become springboards for politicians with national ambitions.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid, who had a brief stint as prime minister before Netanyahu returned to power in late 2022, said Tuesday’s vote shows “there is no problem” holding elections even during the war.
In a post on social media platform X, Lapid called for a snap parliamentary election “as soon as possible” to replace Netanyahu.
Most Palestinians in east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in 1967 and later annexed, have the right to vote in municipal elections but not for parliament.
Palestinian residents make up around 40 percent of the city’s population, but many of them have boycotted past elections.
Second round run-offs will be held where necessary on March 10.


One quarter of Gaza’s people one step away from famine, UN says

One quarter of Gaza’s people one step away from famine, UN says
Updated 27 February 2024
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One quarter of Gaza’s people one step away from famine, UN says

One quarter of Gaza’s people one step away from famine, UN says
  • One in six children under 2 years of age in northern Gaza are suffering from acute malnutrition
  • WFP “is ready to swiftly expand and scale up our operations if there is a ceasefire agreement,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau said

UNITED NATIONS: At least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip — one quarter of the population — are one step away from famine, a senior UN aid official told the Security Council on Tuesday, warning that widespread famine could be “almost inevitable” without action.
One in six children under 2 years of age in northern Gaza are suffering from acute malnutrition and wasting and practically all the 2.3 million people in the Palestinian enclave rely on “woefully inadequate” food aid to survive, Ramesh Rajasingham, director of coordination for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the council.
The World Food Programme “is ready to swiftly expand and scale up our operations if there is a ceasefire agreement,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau told the 15-member council.
“But in the meantime, the risk of famine is being fueled by the inability to bring critical food supplies into Gaza in sufficient quantities, and the almost impossible operating conditions faced by our staff on the ground,” he said.
The war in Gaza began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s air and ground campaign in Gaza has since killed around 30,000 Palestinians, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say.


US calls for ‘diplomatic path’ on Lebanon after Israel warning

US calls for ‘diplomatic path’ on Lebanon after Israel warning
Updated 27 February 2024
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US calls for ‘diplomatic path’ on Lebanon after Israel warning

US calls for ‘diplomatic path’ on Lebanon after Israel warning
  • “We do not want to see either side escalate the conflict in the north,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters
  • “The government of Israel has said publicly, and they have assured us privately, that they want to achieve a diplomatic path”

WASHINGTON: The United States called Tuesday for a focus on diplomacy to resolve tensions over Lebanon, after Israel warned it would pursue Hezbollah even if it achieves a ceasefire in Gaza.
“We do not want to see either side escalate the conflict in the north,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
“The government of Israel has said publicly, and they have assured us privately, that they want to achieve a diplomatic path,” he said.
“That’s what we’re going to continue to pursue and, ultimately, that would make military action unnecessary.”
Miller added that Israel faced a “real security threat” with thousands of people who have fled their homes near Lebanon, calling it a “legitimate issue that needs to be addressed.”
Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement which is backed by Iran, have been exchanging fire since October 7, when Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out a major attack inside Israel.
In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless military operation in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Raising fears of all-out war, Israel this week struck Hezbollah positions deep into Lebanese territory.
On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said there would be no let-up in Israeli action against Hezbollah even if ongoing diplomacy succeeds in reaching a Gaza ceasefire and the release of hostages seized on October 7.
France, with US support, has been pushing a plan in which Hezbollah and allied fighters would withdraw to around 12 kilometers (eight miles) from the border and Israel would halt attacks.


Oil spills pile on pressure for Iraq’s farmers

Oil spills pile on pressure for Iraq’s farmers
Updated 27 February 2024
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Oil spills pile on pressure for Iraq’s farmers

Oil spills pile on pressure for Iraq’s farmers

AL-MEAIBDI, Iraq: Iraq enjoys tremendous oil wealth but many hard-scrabble farmers in the north say crude spills have contaminated their lands, piling on pressure as they already battle drought.

Amid the hills of Salaheddin province, puddles of the viscous black liquid pollute the otherwise fertile and green fields, rendering vast swaths of farmland barren.

“The oil has damaged all that the land can give,” said one farmer, Abdel Majid Said, 62, who owns six hectares (15 acres) in the village of Al-Meaibdi.

“Every planted seed is ruined. This land has become useless.”

Oil spills in Iraq — a country ravaged by decades of conflict, corruption and decaying infrastructure — have contaminated farmland in the northern province, especially during the winter rains.

Authorities blame the militants of the Daesh group who overran large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and were only defeated in Iraq three years later.

The group blew up oil pipelines and wells and also dug primitive oil storage pits, causing crude to seep into the ground, from where annual rains wash it out again.

But the local farmers also complain that the state has been too slow to clean up the mess.

In Al-Meaibdi and the nearby hills of Hamrin, authorities are struggling to find a sustainable solution to the problem, which adds to a litany of environmental challenges.

Iraq, also battered by blistering summer heat and severe drought, is ranked by the United Nations as one of the five countries most vulnerable to key impacts of climate change.

In Hamrin, layers of sludge pile up as excavators build up dirt barriers — a temporary measure to stem the flow of contaminated water onto farmland below.

The oil not only damages the soil and crops but can also pollute groundwater in the water-scarce country.

Said, the farmer, said “the soil is no longer fertile — we have not been able to cultivate it since 2016.”

Some other farmers had already abandoned their lands, he added.

He pointed to a green plot of land so far untouched by the spills and said: “Look how the crops have grown there — but not even a grain has sprouted here.”

Oil spills have contaminated 500 hectares of wheat and barley fields in Salaheddin, said Mohamed Hamad from the environment department in the province.

Hamad pointed to the reign of Daesh, which collected revenues from oil production and smuggling by building makeshift refineries and digging primitive oil storage pits.

He said the group blew up the pipelines and wells of the oil fields of Ajil and Alas, causing crude oil to flood and collect in the Hamrin hills’ natural caves.

Earlier this month, due to heavy rain, oil remnants again poured into agricultural lands, Hamad said, and “unfortunately, the leak damaged land and crops.”

Authorities have buried the group’s makeshift storage pits, Amer Al-Meheiri, the head of the oil department in Salaheddin province, told Iraq’s official news agency INA last year.

Yet during the heavy rains, the oil continues to seep out.

Iraq’s crude oil sales make up 90 percent of budget revenues as the country recovers from years of war and political upheaval, leaving it overly reliant on the sector.

The country boasts 145 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, amounting to 96 years’ worth of production at the current rate, according to the World Bank.

But for many farmers, oil has been a scourge.

Abbas Taha, an agriculture official in Salaheddin, said “oil spills have been occurring frequently since 2016.”

“Farmers suffer a great loss because they no longer benefit from the winter season to grow wheat,” he said.

Some farmers have filed complaints against the state demanding compensation, only to find themselves lost in Iraq’s labyrinthine judicial system, tossed from one court to another.

But Taha insists that authorities plan to compensate those affected in a country where agricultural lands are shrinking as farmers are abandoning unprofitable plots hit by drought.

Due to the severe water scarcity, authorities are drastically reducing farm activity to ensure sufficient drinking water for Iraq’s 43 million people.

Hamad said his department had contacted the relevant authorities to remove oil remnants that would eventually seep through the soil to contaminate groundwater and wells.

The soil also needs to be treated by removing the top layer and replacing it, he said.

“We urged the prime minister, the agriculture minister and the oil minister to compensate the farmers suffering from this environmental disaster,” said 53-year-old farmer Ahmed Shalash.