April 12, 2019
Inhabitants of Arab cities southwestern Iran are facing more hardships after Karun and Karkheh rivers have for the first time joined each other near Ahvaz and are now flowing towards the oil-rich city.
Floods have displaced some 500,000 people from Ahvaz, days after Coordinating Deputy of Iran’s Army Habibollah Sayyari confirmed to the state TV that 200,000 areas had to be evacuated, IRNA reported.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said 400,000 people were threatened by the floods, according to IRNA. While the Iranian Red Crescent Center said it had provided aid to 138,297 people affected by the floods.
“The most important step in the current situation is the management of the flowing water, which has shifted towards the city of Ahvaz,” Fazli said while touring areas affected by floods in Ahvaz.
IRNA quoted eyewitnesses as saying that displaced people are suffering a shortage of primary resources.
Representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader and member of the Assembly of Experts Mohsen Haidari demanded to declare Ahvaz province in a state of crisis, wondering about the government’s reluctance to announce it.
Ahvaz governor, for his part, told Iranian state TV that authorities are trying to distort Karun River’s course after floods from Karkheh River have reached it.
Further districts of Ahvaz were put on flood alert, the provincial governor said, as more torrential rain was forecast in coming days.
“The current situation should be considered due to dam flooding or mismanagement,” said another member of the Assembly of Experts, Abbas Kaabi, stressing the need to “take psychological measures to prevent people from being frustrated.”
Notably, Iranian authorities have been rushing for three decades to build dams on Iran’s largest river, which flows from the Zagros Mountains, west of the country, and passes through Ahvaz, a natural stretch of southern Iraqi territories.
They have been facing charges from local residents about preventing water from flowing into the southern part of Hawizeh Marshes, where Iranian oil stretches between 250 and 350 meters in the Azadegan oil field.
People fleeing affected villages towards the hills, sand dunes and forests are facing dire conditions, an activist among the popular relief teams in Ahvaz told Asharq Al-Awsat.
According to the activist, the displaced face serious risks due to lack of food and aid, with the wide spread of toxic reptiles.