International aid workers meet in Milan to face climate crisis issues

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International aid workers meet in Milan to face climate crisis issues

Over 100 aid workers from 26 countries have gathered in the northern Italian city of Milan to offer personal experiences, innovative approaches, and new perspectives on the most pressing issues related to the climate crisis.

The event is organized by COOPI, an international Italy-based NGO, and comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, which will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, starting 6 November.

Speaking to Vatican News, Marija Tomic, the head of the Iraq Commission at COOPI, offered her perspective on the event and the issues affecting the climate crisis.

"We work in a complex environment,” said Ms. Tomic, “affected by Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, and the energy and climate crisis, which all lead to food poverty and increasing food insecurity."

Iraq’s perspective

Ms. Tomic brought up the case of Iraq to provide a better perspective on the urgent climate issues that need to be addressed rapidly.

“We are talking about one of the five countries that have been most affected by climate change, resulting in increasing temperatures, insufficient rainfalls, drought, and water scarcity.”

Drought and displacements

The data gathered by COOPI suggests that by 2040 no water will reach Iraq through the Tigris River (which, together with the Euphrates, once enclosed one of the most fertile areas worldwide).

In addition, by 2050, Iraq will have over 300 hundred sand storms each year. "It's the worst drought in modern history," noted Ms. Tomic, adding that it is causing the displacement of over 70% of the Iraqi population.

Interventions on multiple levels

COOPI, together with other NGOs, is actively addressing the issue of water scarcity in Iraq on different levels. Firstly, the distribution of water tanks to families who lacked access to clean water.

"One of our beneficiaries told me that after they received the tanks, her family wasn't suffering anymore from water-borne diseases. And we are talking about a single mother with seven children,” said Ms. Tomic.

COOPI is offering other interventions at the community level, consisting in the rehabilitation of water factories as well as water networks, and on higher levels, organizing conferences to discuss "problems of today that will be our children's problems if we don't talk about them today."

By Edoardo Giribaldi