On Sunday and Monday, the scorching heatwave hitting Iraq has led temperatures to reach 50 degrees Celsius in the capital, Baghdad. This extreme weather has intensified the challenges of daily life, particularly for those working outdoors.
Amer Al-Jabri, the spokesperson for Iraq’s Meteorological Organization, informed AFP on Monday that temperatures had reached fifty degrees Celsius in Baghdad on Sunday, and he expected them to remain around 50 degrees on Monday as well, describing it as a “heatwave.”
The highest temperatures on Monday are anticipated to reach “51 degrees in regions such as Samawah, Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, and Najaf” in the southern part of the country, according to the official.
This heatwave has placed a strain on the movement of people, leading some Iraqi provinces, especially in the south like Thi Qar, to reduce the official working hours for employees.
The official anticipated a slight decrease in temperatures in the coming days. However, he noted that the heat would persist in Iraq until the end of September.
In this oil-rich country, the electricity sector is deteriorating, offering only a few hours of power during the day. Some resort to private generators, but this can cost approximately $100 per month for each household, which may not be affordable for all.
The most adversely affected by the scorching temperatures are the laborers compelled to work outdoors under the blazing sun. Among them is Falah Hassan, a 41-year-old father of six, who works as a porter to transport electrical devices.
Hassan, standing in a courtyard where trucks gather in Karrada, Baghdad, shared, while perspiring, “The sun’s heat is like death. In order to work, we drink water all day long.”
He added, his hair graying, “The heat is indescribable, but we are forced to work as we have no other means of livelihood.”
A traffic police officer standing in the middle of a main street in Baghdad, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, stated, “I work ten hours a day from 6 in the morning until 3 or 4 in the afternoon.”
He further added, “When I return home, I take three, four, or five showers, but the heat never leaves me.”
Iraq is ranked among the top five countries most affected by various aspects of climate change, according to the United Nations. It is facing its fourth consecutive year of drought.
During a visit to Iraq last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, cautioned that the country’s drought and rising temperatures serve as a “warning” for the world at large.
Türk echoed a term used by UN Secretary-General António Guterres last month, stating that the world has entered an “era of boiling point.” He added, “Here (in Iraq), we live it and see it every day.”