Severe sandstorms have blanketed the Ahwaz region in Iran for the past week, with hundreds of people already admitted to hospital due to breathing problems.
The sandstorms, caused by intensifying desertification in the region due to the Iranian regime’s widespread damming and diversion of rivers there, have already led to numerous car accidents, many of them fatal, as visibility is reduced to less than five meters. Electricity and water supplies have also been cut off to many areas in the region as a result of the sandstorms, adding to the people’s existing misery.
Through social media networks many Ahwazi Facebook users expressed their outrage at the negligence and the aggressive policies of the Iranian regime authorities by publishing pictures and posts such as “we have right to breathe clean air”, “you have stolen Oil, Gas, and water and left the dust for us”.
No official report by regime has been released on the number of Ahwazis who were admitted to hospitals or clinics after being affected by the dust storm. However, many reports with pictures by Ahwazi activists have been circulated via social Medias showing the massive numbers of Ahwazi Arab people who have been hospitalized in the medical centers in several Ahwazis cities due to the dust storm. While the Iranian central government continues plundering the natural resources of Al-Ahwaz, it is still employing demagogic propaganda and publicizing misleading facts where they claim that the sand storms which are plaguing the Ahwazi regions have an external origin and for this they are blaming the neighboring countries.
The Ahwazi Arab inhabitants who are living next to marshes and wetlands such as Hor-Al-Azim (which has been dried up by the Iranian oil companies) have repeatedly released films and videos that clearly show the horrific rise of sand storms from the dried wetlands.
The horrendous sandstorms have caused chaos across the region since they first began a week ago, with public and private institutions, including schools and banks, have been closed due to their severity of the sandstorms; the levels of dust in the atmosphere have been measured as reportedly 66 times the level set as safe for human exposure by the World Health Organisation. In related news, Iranian Naseem newspaper reported on Friday (January 27) that Ahwaz region has the highest incidence of cancer sufferers in Iran, which medical experts have attributed to the heavy pollution and worsening sandstorms.
The World Health Organization since 2011 has repeatedly rated Al-Ahwaz as the world’s most polluted region. Not surprisingly, cancer and respiratory illnesses are on the rise among desperate poor Ahwazi Arab people. Annually, nearly 2000 people in the Al-Ahwaz area are diagnosed with cancer. A number is likely to increase by 90% by 2020, according to cancer research in Ahwazi medical centers. The WHO says Ahwaz has the highest measured level of airborne particles small enough to cause serious health problems for humans.
The region also houses over 90 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by the Iranian regime, which cause massive pollution; despite the vast, wealth accrued by the regime from these resources, the Ahwazi people live in conditions of near-destitution, being denied any of the benefits from the natural resources on their lands, as well as denied the most basic of human rights.