Deadly sewage threatens millions of Ahwaz Arab people

By Rahim Hamid

Deliberate neglect of public facilities particularly lack of common developed sewage system which is an epidemic regarding the underground waste and sewage infrastructure of Ahwazi’ urban and rural residential areas. These have caused living condition unbearable and harder than ever before for Ahwazi Arab population who are paying the ultimate cruel price and being woefully victimized due to the institutionalized discriminatory mechanism of exclusion policies of Iranian occupying regime who sounds had never been contented after carrying out all kind of crimes and violations against Ahwazi Arabs.

One of the major long-standing problems of Ahwazi Arabs in cities, towns and villages is lack of sewage disposal system which as a result, most wastewater has been discharged directly in areas including fertile agricultural lands which over time have been changed from arable lands to huge foul-smelling bogs.

According to an Investigation by Ahwazi organization for the Defense of Human rights shows more than 90 percent of untreated sewage of Ahwazi urban and rural areas are ending up in lakes, wetlands and rivers each day. Beside of destroying the lands and marshland and contaminating the river, it shows Ahwazi Arab people lives have been stricken appallingly as if they are sitting on a health time bomb caused by sheer neglect of water and sanitation system.

Speaking about the possible health implications caused by wastewater, Saeed Hamidan, Executive Director of Ahwazi organization for the Defense of Human rights said: “truly it is a looming crisis and the health implication are frightening and threaten the lives of millions of Ahwazi Arabs since our volunteer human rights activists from Ahwaz reported of outbreak of diarrheal diseases and increases of child deaths to Ahwazi areas where sanitation and water system have dilapidated”.

He added that “while Ahwazi Arab areas suffer water scarcity due to the construction of dams on rivers and then pumping it to Persian areas, the condition got worse since the Ahwazi lacks, rivers and marshland have now contaminated and tuned into black stinking of bogs and river of sewage that flow in an open channels through densely residential places”.

He also mentioned that “the open sewage channels without lid on the streets caused the death of Ahwazi citizens, as an example 2 year Ahwazi Arab girl whose name was Zahra, when she was playing near her house in Abadan city fell down in sewage and died, she was one of many who lost their life there. Despite that the first oil refinery was established in 1908 in Abadan the city still lack of basic infrastructure, high rates of unemployment and corruption by the Iranian regime”. For watching the place of incident click here.

Kamil Alboshoka, a human right activist, during the speech in the United Nations in September 2013 pointed out that Karoon River is the largest river in Ahwaz region but now became polluted and its width and depth similar to other Ahwazi rivers have been shrunk significantly due to direct discharge of untreated wastewater as raw materials and chemical substances mostly coming from hospitals’ sewage system which resulted in mass death and extinction of various fish species and at the same time depriving many Ahwazi Arabs who are mostly dependent on fishing for make living.

Ahwazi cities have systematically been left suffering from incomplete and inadequate public facilities and services such as lack of proper drainage channels as we can see in everywhere the leakage of old rusty pipeline waste making the untreated sewage flowing into the streets. Beside the unpleasant smell of wastewater and trashes which spilled and accumulated in the streets, it has caused chronic and serious contagious diseases in Arab populated areas particularly in most Ahwazi marginalized and shanty slums resulting in a frightening view of collapsing sewage and living condition of those poor Arab people who have been drown in accumulative excreta.

A report published by the Mehr news agency a few days before, highlights the sufferings of Ahwazi Arabs in a city called “Shayban” near Ahwaz capital. In this report, local Arab people complained about the sewage flowing and accumulation of waste garages which are being dumped into streets making a large stinking swamp of waste causing serious illnesses and contaminating the neighborhood’s ecosystems.

The problem is so serious and publicly obvious that none of officials of the city are able to conceal it, although they in the past months and years, each of them claiming to have followed this issue, yet the problem is persistent.

Shayban people every morning come out of their homes to go to work, school, shopping while looking at the disgustful bogs and shake their head as a sign of desperate complaint for their unfortunate miseries. In spite of extend of the problem; the so-called officials have failed either in allocating exclusive funds or keeping up with concrete initiatives for designing sewage system of the city.

Accumulations of wastes and turning it into huge bogs have become convenient places for transmission of various infectious and skin illnesses to local residents. Sewage spills into street in the hot season and the environmental conditions in which serious long-term diseases can arise, put children and the whole residents at risk of even death in these areas. Foul-smelling sewage reached to a point which took away people’s comfort and causes deep worries for residents since fatal diseases such as hepatitis, cholera, typhoid and diarrhea have drastically increased in such areas.

One of the residents of the area whose house is a few steps away from the sewer, in an interview with Mehr news agency said that” the stench smell of the bogs is so irritating that caused us to use regular Air freshener Spray the only option to stave off temporally the bad troubling smell at home and when we want to go out, we cannot escape from the disgusting smell which causes breathing disorder especially chronic coughing.

He went on; “in hot weather in the summer, the smell is more intense and various mysterious insects like mosquitoes are gathered in bogs and come into our homes that have less distance from the bogs which consequently cause various diseases”.

Another resident form the Shayban city said that “the bogs have become main habitat for Reproduction of pathogenic insets, parasites and vermin species which come into homes”.

In relation to the rise of diseases caused by the presence of sewage and bogs in the streets he stated; “our children are really vulnerable in catching diseases because they are plying in the streets, their balls are in constant contact with the bogs which leads to the transmission of disease(s). Therefore, we are always concerned whether to allow our kids to play outside in the streets. He added that this problem is a long-standing problem for local Arab residents and the authorities have failed to take any action as if they are deaf and blind toward our sufferings”.

Other residents said; “sometime we are not able to sleep due to distracting sound coming from huge number of frogs croaking and also crickets chirping in these bogs. However, our problem is not just about this but in fact, stinking smell coming from death of huge proportion of frogs and crickets which also did not survive from the contaminated substances in the bogs. Then, while he was about to burst into crying said the frogs died in these bogs let alone us who have been drowned in these bogs and sewage for years without receiving any form of attention from officials”.

In a related case, Hussein Ghelichkhani, Head of the health and treatment network of the Bavi district in Ahwaz city, said that unfortunately absence of adequate sewage disposal system has led to discharging of the wastewaters to the around agricultural lands which concurrently destroyed by the diverse effects of sewage substances becoming wide unsanitary swamps posing real risk for local people.

He indicated to the health problems caused by the proliferation of insects, rodents and breeding of stray dogs in the densely swamps which have provided appropriate ground for transmitting intestinal diseases, parasites, malaria, , plague, rabies, leishmaniasis etc..

He stressed that it is necessary the city officials to take action to build sewage system for Shayban city and dry out the bogs.

Abdlolreza Daram, head of Shayban city council, in an interview with Mehr News agency about the looming crisis caused by the bogs and swamps which were formed especially in rural small towns said that since the establishment of Shayban city, the lack of sewage system, hundreds of millions of liters of untreated wastewater and surface water are being illegally discharged into rivers, streams and agricultural lands around the city each day which over time caused to form these bogs. He confirmed that about 70 acres of the best agricultural lands of Shayban city have been covered by these bogs. He added that the only way to eliminate this problem is establishing sewerage network for Shayban city.

The residents of the areas have expressed their grave concern about emergence of the multitude rampant diseases originate from this polluted environment and called on officials to allocate a budget for building proper sewage system. They also called on department of the municipal authorities to take concrete steps to provide the necessary supplies to citizens to reduce the severity of the problems.

While most Ahwazi cities, towns and villages are devoid of developed sewage infrastructure, the ever expanding of bogs and swamps formed by the accumulations of wastewater and waste materials, causing life to be harder ever than before because of the stifling stench of smell coming from these bogs, caused breathing disorder for people living in the scorching summer days amid high humidity of weather. Such condition is getting worse and worse as the infectious diseases have broken out as a result of accumulated sewage and waste.

It should be noted that the continuation of the series of deliberate negligence in cities and villages of Ahwaz and provision of services is upsetting the citizens particularly when they note that this neglect is only happening in cities and villages of Ahwaz whereas those regions being settled by the Persians, are more well-maintained in terms of environment, and potable water and all means of life to tempt those settlers to stay in Ahwaz, while its people do not see the bounties of their land except the contaminated water and waste, environmental pollution and the spread of serious and infectious diseases.

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