ISF Campaigns

What Was Not Destroyed by Drought is Now Burned by Fire

Humat Dijlah, 7/8/2018

As a result of drought and water scarcity in the marshes, fire continues to spread over large areas of al-Huwaizah Marsh in Maisan Governorate in Southern Iraq, ravaging the natural area. Environmental activist Ahmed Saleh Neema, based in Maisan, explained the fire started in the pond of Um Alneaj of al-Hawizah Marsh between 6thand 7th of July. As it spread rapidly clouds of thick black smoke covering the area from were seen from kilometers away. Neema  says fires are common as they are usually started by local inhabitants, who burn reeds and papyrus at the end of each year in a tradition known among the local population to revitalize the vegetation in the areaBut this time the fires broke out for different reasons: drought and water scarcity. This led to the death of hundreds of hectares of reed lands, and dry reed makes it easily susceptible to fires at high temperatures.

Al-Janabi: This Time the Fire is Out of Control!

“The fires in Huwaizah are an additional disaster on top of the water scarcity,”  said Dr. Hassan al-Janabi, Minister of Water Resources in Iraq. “This time the fire is out of control!,” he added.

The Ministry of Water Resources released a statement on the issue: “Recently there have been fires in the densely reed areas in the northern part of al-Huwaizah Marsh, one of the Southern Iraq Marshes and one of the four natural sites within the World Heritage property [of the Ahwar] and the first site of the Ramsar Convention in Iraq”. The statement claimed the drought was the result of drought in  large parts of the marshes due to severe water scarcity and low water flows to these wetlands, reaching exceptional minimum levels this year.The Ministry added: “The unprecedented increase in temperatures contributed to the spread of these fires. This has a negative impact on the health of the local population and biodiversity in the region, with significant air pollution caused by the smoke from the fires.”

The Ministry called on “international agencies and national and international organizations to provide support and relief to the people of those areas and to provide them with drinking water, food essentials and livestock feed to alleviate the harm and help them overcome this crisis,” demanding “cooperation between Iraq and Iran to increase the release of water from both sides to protect the site.” Huwaiza Marsh is located on the border, with two-thirds in Iraq and one-third in Iran. A decade ago the Iranians built an embankment on the border within the Marsh.

The Revolutionary Guard Intervenes on the Iranian Side

Days after it broke out, the firespread to Hoor al-Azim on the Iranian side of the Marsh, prompting the Iranian authorities to act immediately to quell it. Brigadier Farzadi Bauer referred to the Revolutionary Guard’s procedures to extinguish the reed fire in al-Hawizah Marsh, confirming that on July 18, following the instruction of the Air Force Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, two 171-mile helicopters equipped with firefighting equipment went to carry out the firefighting operation. According to Brigadier Bauer the helicopters of the Revolutionary Guard carried out more than 70 hours of flights to extinguish the fire in Hoor al-Azim, pointing out that the fire was very large and due to heavy smoke, access to the eye of the fire was fraught with difficulties. The main goal of their operation was to prevent another outbreak of fires in the Marshes.

Appeals to the Iraqi Government

From her side, Ms. Simra Al-Shabib, Director of the Marshlands Rehabilitation Center, welcomed the Iranian offer for cooperation to fightthe fire on the Iraqi side of Al-Huwaiza Marsh with the help of equipment of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Sheindicated that the Center had approached the Iraqi Ministry of Defense earlier to request assistance in order to mitigate the crisis, but the Ministry was unable to provide the necessary air force for this operation claiming the required type of aircraft is not available in Iraq.

Meanwhile, more than 28 days of fires have been reported to have destroyed hundreds of hectares of reed forests along the Marshes, as well as the displacement of birds, destruction of their nests and the deaths of other wild animals. While environmental activist Jassem al-Asadi confirmed that there were no human casualties as a result of these fires, and no cases of loss of livestock were recorded, according to the follow-up to the crisis.

According to al-Asadi, the main cause of the fire were the reed forests in the Marshes which were so dry they burned easily. Because of high temperature fires swept through the dry cane forests quickly. He stressed that the biggest crisis experienced by the Iraqi Marshes is the drought and low levels of water, bringing havoc in all its forms to the region.

Humat Dijlah Association calls on the Iraqi government and the local government in Maisan Governorate to take into consideration the extent of the environmental, natural and demographic damage caused by these fires in the Marshes. We call on the Iraqi government to take serious steps to resolve the drought crisis and to take steps to restore life to these natural areas and avoid further damage to the property.


With great concern we are following the decreasing water supply to the Tigris River — a problem which has the potential to create an environmental catastrophe in Iraq in the near future.


We are particularly worried following statements made by the Iraqi government in response to a cable from the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad stating that Turkey is considering postponing until next June the filling of the reservoir for the Ilisu Dam.



The Iraqi government stated this postponement resulted from “the success of previous dialogues” with the embassy. This, in our opinion, reflects the following:

First, the Turkish government continues to deceive the Iraqi government about the real date of the dam’s work, and continues to suggest falsely that the dam’s work is being delayed due to the concerns of the Iraqi government.


Second, the Iraqi government is aware of this deception, but continues to mislead the Iraqi people who are legitimately concerned about securing their fair share of water from the Tigris River.


In either case, this response from the government indicates a deliberate denial of the magnitude of the environmental and economic disaster now facing Iraq. The Iraqi government does not have the courage to take a single serious step to confront this potential disaster; instead, its water and foreign policies try merely to patch over the problem, not solve it at its roots. A definitive and powerful position must refer to international covenants and treaties, and those agreements that bind Iraq and Turkey — these would not simply postpone the building and use of the dam, but deny its very right to exist.


As we criticize the Iraqi government’s lack of action and weak stance, we must also make clear to the public the reality of the situation in Turkey near the Ilisu dam. The news coming from our colleagues and friends who are active there indicates that work on the dam has continued until now, but has not been completed as the Turkish government has claimed.


Many of the families living in the historic city of Hasankeyf, which will be flooded by the Ilisu Dam’s reservoir, are still refusing to leave their homes. In addition, many religious and archaeological shrines have not yet been moved out of Hasankeyf to new sites.


The many legal and administrative issues that challenge the operation of the dam, including the damage that will be inflicted on the cities located below it, have thus far made it impossible for the Turkish government to use the dam. Given this, how can the Iraqi government claim that this newest postponement reflects “a success”?


When the work on the dam is completed, will respect for Iraqi concerns in fact be granted by the Turkish government? We do not believe so, and thus we emphasis the need for urgent and decisive action now, making use of all relevant international conventions and treaties, through the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which should play an important role in this campaign.


We also call on the Iraqi people to participate in this campaign to defend the Tigris River.



International campaign to save the Tigris River and the Iraqi marshes
Humat Dijlah- Local coordination
27,Jan. 2018

A unique sports camp

Sport against Violence to more successes

In Dokan, in the province of Sulaimaniyah, the Sport against Violence team held a sport camp for its volunteers’ team, in cooperation with Iraqi Social Forum (ISF), the camp aimed to establish many practical and dialogue activities as well as sport ones.

Ahmed Al Baghdadi, the team coordinator, said “the idea of the sport camp is an old one, which we have always thought about implementing but we had a lack in fund that was required to finance the camp.  I can only thank the Norwegian Karebo foundation for supporting this event. Also the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative ICSSI, and the ISF efforts. ISF is the space, which provides us an appropriate atmosphere to achieve our goals and dreams in building another Iraq”, Ahmed added ” the preparations of the camp took two months of time, regarding organization, choosing the venue, participants’ selection; logistic and non-logistic details of the program, trainers and others. It’s necessary to commend all the huge efforts that have been made by the trainers and the team volunteers for making this program a successful one. They acted  as a group regarding all details of the event until it appeared to us in this wonderful condition. It will stay remain in our minds and the minds of all the participants for its beauty and content”.

Issa Jaafer (one of the camp organizers ) pointed out saying “Team members gathered to detect all tasks and distributed them on everyone. All the needs of the camp were determined, a special electronic   form was uploaded to sign up with the team, then came  members’ selection phase and giving them all the instructions regarding the camp”, and he added that they haven’t faced any problems or troubles and everything went smoothly in the camp,  it ended up with excellent results.

Sarah Al Hadi one of the participations in the camp explained saying that “she loved participating in the camp to benefit from it, from the team exercises and to improve her experiences in her field of activity within the team” she added “the camp was a nice start for the summer break, we used to start our everyday mornings with morning exercises with coach Samir”. After that, we were trained about Nonviolence with Nonviolence trainer Raya Asi, then we discussed the issues and activities of our team during the evening sessions. We would have sport matches like Football and Volleyball” , and she pointed that “All of the other logistics that were  provided to the volunteers like breakfast, lunch, dinner, providing a suitable residence and other services were very well by the team coordinators.  It was excellent and reflecting a unique experience”.

 Ahmed Isam, one of the team members who participated in the camp, talked about the exercises and said that his participation in the training camp “Was a fruitful one, during which we achieved lots of goals, because this camp involved heavy morning sport activities that had the role of giving every member of the team a heads up about the importance of fitness and morning sport activities”. He also pointed that every day of the camp there were competitions or sport games that some girls participated in with boys, to strengthen the woman role in sport and support her and encourage her to play sports without restrictions. After the morning activity, Nonviolence sessions were held”. He added: “The camp was an encouraging and fruitful event” and “exchanging lots of opinions and discussions that deals with lots of violence cases, and how to stand up against them. We expect lots of future activities for our team”.

It is worth to mention that the Sport Against Violence team is one of the active teams in the Nonviolence track for the ISF. The team works on rumoring the culture of Nonviolence and Peace, using the sport techniques as an active and capable social tool to attract youth.






برنامج البث المباشر – المنتدى الاجتماعي العراقي  –



Qushal -ISF Campaigns tenets – Tent of Youth against sexual harassment – campaign -Iraqi social forum the 3rd day 28th of September 2013

القشلة ، خيمة شباب ضد التحرش


Youth and Their Role in Building a Democratic Estate- Symposium- Tammuz Organization for Social Development




State Attitude towards unions’ activity in Iraq after 2003 by Engineering Professions Syndicate موقف الدولة من النشاط النقابي في العراق بعد 2003 نقابة ذوي المهن الهندسية – ISF المنتدى الاجتماعي العراقي



Save Tigris –1

Save Tigris –2

Save Tigris–3


Save the Tigris campaign’s session : Water Crisis between Iraq and – Neighboring Countries: The – Ilisu dam, Exploring Legal – Strategies morning 27th  9 am

حملة انقاذ نهر دجلة والاهوار العراقي – جوانب قانونية

Iraq Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)’s session: Global campaigns for peace and nonviolence morning 27th 9 am

جلسة مبادرة التضامن مع المجتمع المدني العراقي –السلام العالمي



Information Center for Social Development- Social Justice in Iraq- Symposium

العدالة الاجتماعية – مركز المعلومة  27-09-2013



Opening event and speeches – Baghdad University – Morning of 26th September 2013

الافتتاح في جامعة بغداد – يوم 26 عروض وكلمات الافتتاح


Baghdad University – Morning of 26th September 2013

الافتتاح يوم 26 في جامعة بغداد