28 December 2016

How do you feed 6 million people in Baghdad when it's flooded?

Welcome back to my voice in the wilderness.

The New Yorker offers a longread on the imminent, biblically catastrophic failure of the Mosul dam:
The Iraqi government -- embattled, paralyzed, ineffectual -- seems highly unlikely to carry out meaningful evacuations or large-scale relief efforts in the event of a breach. "The sheer scale of a catastrophic outburst of the dam would overwhelm in-country capacities to respond," the U.N. report said. Adamo, the former official, scoffed at the idea that the government could save anyone. "They have no plan," he said. American officials, emphasizing the practical option of "self-evacuation," have urged the Iraqis to place early-warning sirens along the Tigris. Thus far, two have been installed. "They’re really, really loud," the senior American official told me; they can be heard for miles. Still, as people flee, the sick, disabled, and elderly would likely be left behind. With the Baghdad International Airport flooded, meaningful relief from outside the country might be days away. The U.N. predicted that most of the population affected by the flood would not receive any assistance for at least two weeks, and probably much longer. About four million Iraqis -- an eighth of the country's population -- would be left homeless.

By the time the flood wave rolled past Baghdad and exhausted itself, as many as one and a half million people could be dead. But, some experts told me, the aftermath would prove even more harrowing. "I am not really worried about the dead -- because they're dead," Alwash said. "What worries me is everyone else. How do you feed six million people in Baghdad when it's flooded? How do you give them electricity? Where do they go?"
This will be Iraq's Katrina, no exaggeration. Maybe even two Katrinas. But being in a foreign country, it's not actually our problem. Except that it will be, of course. The President-elect's Twitter responses are left as an exercise for the reader.

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