Sep 22, 2015

Second Parliamentary Question on the Lake Urmia in 5 Years

In July 2015, following a series of advocacy meetings coordinated by UNPO at the European Parliament, a parliamentary question entitled "Drying up of Lake Urmia" was submitted to the European Commission by MEP Klaus Buchner (Greens/EFA) and MEP Mark Demesmaeker (ECR). In light of the historic nuclear consensus between Iran and P5+1, the submitted question reiterated the disastrous and rapid demise of Lake Urmia; the water basin decreased 60% by 2011 and 90% by 2015. The climatic, public health and demographic consequences of the impending environmental catastrophe are alarming. The parliamentary question requests the European Commission to adopt an official stance on the matter and to outline concrete steps to be taken to ameliorate the situation. 

Lake Urmia is a UNESCO-registered bio-reserve, once one of the world’s largest hyper saline lakes, located in the northwestern part of Iran and lies in between East and West Azerbaijan provinces, where the majority of the population is Azerbaijani Turk. 

The predicament of Lake Urmia is highly politicized. The lake has been at the center of wider geopolitical concerns, particularly when taking into account that the majority of the surrounding inhabitants in the region are Azerbaijani Turks, it is widely believed that the authorities have been willfully ineffective and passive in allocating funds for rescue and revival projects. Environmental issues in Iran tend to be inherently political and arguably intertwined with human rights abuses.  

The economic impact for locals has been unsurprisingly dramatic with mass migration and forced demographic change in an already politically volatile and vulnerable region. Additionally, the high levels of salinity, wind-borne salt and dust storms, as well as the constant exposure of salt particles to the sun causing ultra violet rays, not only brought about respiratory and sight complications, but have also contributed heavily to the risk of skin cancer. This hike in bio-toxicity and radiation in the region requires immediate action, since environmental issues, by their nature, do not acknowledge borders.




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