Dust has engulfed over a dozen Iranian provinces and the storm is expected to continue until early April, head of the national taskforce for mitigation of sand and dust storms said Monday.

The dust was coming from within Iran and from outside, Ali Mohammad Tahmasbi Birgani said. This was an international challenge, he said, needed action including through the United Nations Development and Environment Programs and the Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management: “We have a large number of bilateral and multilateral agreements with neighboring countries, including Iraq, Syria and Turkey, but no operational action has been taken.”

A report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in February projected temperatures in the Middle East and North African will rise “by at least 4°C by 2050 − that is, if greenhouse gases continue to increase at the current rate − and heat waves are set to be experienced ten times more frequently by the same year.”

Carnegie predicted growing migration, food insecurity and conflicts over resources: “In addition to increased water scarcity, climate change will produce increased aridity in parts of the MENA region in the next century, thus shrinking arable lands and disrupting agricultural patterns. Moreover, already dry soil is set to become drier, and desert dust will increasingly accumulate in the atmosphere and create more sandstorms, especially in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.”

Dust storms and other pollutants have increased markedly in recent years in several Iranian provinces, including Khuzestan, Kermanshah, and Sistan-Baluchestan.

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