UN meets to discuss potential Mosul dam collapse

Published March 10th, 2016 - 12:53 GMT
The Mosul Dam is situated on the Tigris River and first opened on 7 July 1986. (AFP/File)
The Mosul Dam is situated on the Tigris River and first opened on 7 July 1986. (AFP/File)

A meeting has been held at the United Nations to discuss the possible collapse of Iraq’s largest dam, with officials calling for prompt action to prevent a disaster.

During the meeting, hosted by Iraq and the US at the UN headquarters in New York Wednesday, briefings were made on a possible breach in the structure of Mosul Dam, which is built on the Tigris River.

Located in northern Iraq, the Mosul Dam has suffered structural flaws over the years. The foundation it is built on is unstable and continuously erodes, according to reports.

Its brief seizure by Daesh in August 2014 caused a lapse in required maintenance and inflicted further damage on the structure.

If it collapses, the lives of as many as 1.5 million people living in the flood path could be endangered.

Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim hosted experts from the US Army Corps of Engineers and officials from the UN Development Program and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and other senior diplomats participated in the event.

In a statement, US Ambassador Samantha Power urged all UN member states to take immediate steps to help prevent the dam’s collapse.

“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,” she said.

If it collapses, a wave as high as 14 meters (45 feet) would be unleashed, she said.

The Italian Trevi Group is responsible for repairing the dam under a 273- million-euro (296-million-dollar) deal recently signed with the Iraqi government.

Rome has also announced plans to deploy over 400 troops to protect the site of the dam, which is close to territory held by Daesh.

Daesh launched an offensive in Iraq in June 2014 and took control of swathes of Iraqi territory. Their capture of the dam raised concerns that they would blow it up.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material

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