Addressing Dust Crisis a Top Priority for Foreign Ministry

Addressing Dust Crisis a Top Priority for Foreign Ministry
Addressing Dust Crisis a Top Priority for Foreign Ministry

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Friday underlined the need to develop all-out cooperation with regional nations and international organizations to tackle back-to-back sandstorms plaguing the Middle East.
He pointed to the ongoing dust crisis as one of his ministry’s top priorities at a meeting with diplomats and representatives stationed at Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, ISNA reported.
The minister said the country’s diplomacy had taken on the vital task of “identifying and boosting regional and international capacities” for all-out cooperation to control reoccurring dust storms. 
Since the start of March, sandstorms have occurred nearly every week in the region, sending sensitive groups to emergency rooms, disrupting flights and closing schools, universities and offices. 
Capital of Tehran has been named as the most polluted major city in the world several times over the past few weeks and major parts of western Iran have been blanketed with thick layers of dust and particles that have been disruptive to every-day life. 
Diminished water flow rates in Iraq due to dam-building in Turkey has created new sources of particles across the neighboring country, which are easily carried into western Iran with high-speed winds. 
Air pollutants are the cause of at least seven million premature deaths in the world on a yearly basis. 



Int’l Organizations 

The World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environmental Program, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization were a few of the international non-profits Amir-Abdollahian intends to enlist in the fight against sandstorms, he said in the meeting in Geneva. 
“We need to make use of all the equipment and international networks, especially the UN Coalition on Combating Sand and Dust Storms (SDS), to raise awareness,” he said, adding that it was the only way to formulate scientific and long-lasting solutions to this crisis. 
Last week, the minister made telephone conversations with his Syrian, Iraqi and Kuwaiti counterparts to call for urgent joint action to address the problem of dust and particle pollution that has crippled many countries in the area. 
An expert team from Iran’s Department of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant organizations will be dispatched to Iraq and Syria to hold meetings on collective cooperation to tackle the dust pollution. 
Since the start of the Iranian New Year in late March, over 12,000 residents of the western province of Khuzestan had to visit medical centers due to respiratory issues from heavy air pollution. 

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