Draining causes exodus

Published: Friday 31 December 1993

-- THE IRAQI government's campaign to drain the Howeiza Marsh in the south to flush out Shiite rebels has prompted an exodus: Every day for the past three months, about 25 refugees have fled across the marsh to the Iranian side.

Sardiya Ali, a refugee, said, "We can no longer fish or grow rice. Our animals are dead. The children are sick. To remain in the marsh is suicide." Fresh water has become so precious that it sells for $1.04 a bucket. "We, who used to live surrounded by water, now dig wells in the dry river beds to get something to drink," says Kharia Hamid, another refugee. "We tried to live without fish, without rice, and without our buffaloes, but who can live without water?"

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