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Wed June 16 2021

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US warns of Mosul dam failure

10 Mar 16 The US ambassador to the United Nations has hosted a briefing on the Mosul Dam, which is at risk of failure.

The briefing was co-hosted with the government of Iraq, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

The Mosul Dam faces a serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning, delegates heard. Approximately 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis live in the flood path and are at serious risk in the event of a breach. Members of the panel – including Iraq’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Al-Hakim, technical specialists from the US Army Corps of engineers, and representatives from UNDP and UN OCHA – briefed attendees on the history and structural features of the Mosul Dam, the steps the government of Iraq is taking to educate its people on the risks of breach, and the measures Iraq and the international community are taking to try to shore up the dam.

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They also received a report on the status of the latest UN emergency appeal for Iraq, which is only 8% funded to date.

Ambassador Samantha Power, US permanent representative to the UN said: “The briefings on the Mosul Dam today were chilling. While important steps have been taken to address a potential breach, the dam could still fail. In the event of a breach, there is the potential in some places for a flood wave up to 14 metres high that could sweep up everything in its path, including people, cars, unexploded ordnance, waste and other hazardous material, further endangering massive population centers that lie in the flood path. It is crucial that all UN member states quickly get informed about the magnitude of the problem and the importance of readiness to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.”

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