Gradual, irreversible destruction of rural Ahwazis’ lands and lives

dasht-abbas-ahwaz

Because of its proximity to the Iraqi border, the village of Samaneh suffered severe loss and damage during the Iran-Iraq War (1981-1988) and many of its Arab population were forced to relocate to other areas.
The village has a significant number of injured men and women, wounded during the war and its aftermath. The locals say that the number of upper and lower limb amputees continues to increase due to the legacy of the huge amount of mines laid by the Iranian regime during the war.

The Iranian Government is not prepared to pay any attention to their plight and has done nothing to remove the mines from the land areas around the village.  As with the other Ahwazi Arab rural areas, they do not even bother to provide access to paved roads, so the widespread negligence is very visible. Also like the other neighbouring rural areas, Samaneh is now subject to frequent sandstorms.
The only livelihood for the people of this area is farming, crops and animals. However, the sand spreading from the dunes in the storms has made it increasingly hard for the people to continue with their farming and ranching.
Ebrisam Chanani, an 80 year old elder of the village said “Unfortunately we do not have a source of potable water, so all residents are at the mercy of supplies brought by tank truck to the village every ten days”. He continued “The village is quite far from the city centre, but our difficulties in travelling are not just the distance, but also the poor condition of the road which is very narrow and bumpy. We lack access to vehicles and sometimes it can take three days to get our sick family members to the hospital. We need an ambulance service, at least for emergency cases.”
Ferayeh Gharibi, another of the Samaneh village elders, said “Until the last few years we had no problems of water salinity, or any water shortages. However, companies established in the area have destroyed the irrigation system and now our water is supplied by truck tanker. Sometimes we have to go long distances to bring back water to our village.”
He also complained that the many oil companies now in the area do not employ young Arabs from the local rural district, but instead are hiring non indigenous workers from other Iranian provinces such as Isfahan and Yazdi and providing them with full services and amenities. “This is not acceptable.” he said “They should give top priority to enlisting local people to work in the  oil companies as these lands belong to us.” “At one time” he continued “the living conditions in the village were excellent, but the long term droughts accompanied by suffocating sandstorms have made life unbearable, forcing us to stay in our homes, as if we were under house arrest.”
Faleh Hassani, a member of the village council, stated “The village has around 130 households with a population of over 180 people.  We do not have a health centre here, so have to go several miles to the only one in the Desht Abbas rural district and it is closed at night”. He also said that “scorpion stings are very common in our rural areas and the mortality rate due to these and also snake bites is significantly high because of the long distance needed to travel to get access to medical facilities.”
Mrs. Neshideh Nasseri, an elderly woman said sadly  “I swear to God we are thirsty, our village does not have drinking water and nobody pays attention to us.  All I have are these sheep remaining sheep and two cows to support my four children”.  She continued “Regular power cuts in the scorching summer season, shortage of drinking water and absence of medical facilities have combined to push at least 20 families into migrating to urban areas.”
The Iranian regime, by practising oppression, creating poverty and requisitioning the Ahwazi Arab land and property, have left no option for many of the people, but to migrate from their homeland.

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