Threat of disease in Iraq villages flooded by militants jihadis

Militants Jihads for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) caused flooding in the Iraqi city of Abu Ghraib when they forced the closure of a major dam on the Euphrates river

DUBAI, 27 May 2014 (IRIN) – Flooding caused by the forced closure of a major dam on the Euphrates river has destroyed villages and farms across a 200sqkm area west of Baghdad, leaving tens of thousands homeless and at high risk of waterborne diseases like cholera.

Aid agencies – already stretched to the limit trying to respond to the 434,000 people displaced by fighting in the troubled province of Anbar – are now scrambling to get food, shelter and hygiene kits to the estimated 40,000 families affected by the flooding in Abu Ghraib and surrounding areas in April.

The water – which at the height of the flooding was reported to have reached just a few kilometres short of Baghdad International Airport – is now slowly receding from Abu Ghraib and some families are starting to return home. But Nuaimiyah Dam, in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province, is still believed to be under the control of militants jihadis from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and it is feared they could cause more flooding at any time.

“The government does not yet have full control of the area or the dam,” said Eliana Nabaa, spokesperson for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). “There is no reason to relax because it [the flooding] could happen again.”