PARIS — Not war but drought has forced more than 100,000 people in northern Iraq to abandon their homes since 2005, with 36,000 more on the verge of leaving, UNESCO said Tuesday. The four-year drought and excessive well pumping have led to the collapse of an ancient system of underground aqueducts, or karez, as they are known in Iraq. Only 116 of 683 karez systems are currently operational, according to a study by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The study says 70 percent of active karez have dried up. The Paris-based organization says the study, the first to research the effects of the droughts on the system of underground aqueducts, concludes that ‘swift and urgent action is needed to prevent further population displacement.’ UNESCO said it considers the plight of the karez system and the migration as an early warning sign for the future of water in the area. The study provides the Iraqi government with its first inventory of karez, UNESCO said, 84 percent of which are located in Sulaymaniyah and 13 percent in Erbil province. A karez can produce enough drinking water for 8,640 people and 1,440 households, UNESCO said. The technology […]

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