21st July 2003. Chibayish, Iraq... Medina, a mother of ten, has returned to her marshland home after more than a decade, lured by the news that the marshes were miraculously coming back to life and that the land was no longer under Saddam's control. .. The displaced Marsh Arabs were forced off of their lands-- a connection that goes back centuries--when Saddam's regime drained the marshes, considered to be one of the greatest environmental crimes of the 21st century.
The Marsh Arabs, a proud people who once worked their ancestral lands with complete self-sufficiency were forced to flee, becoming migrant workers and cheap labourers across Iraq. Since the war's end, over 3,000 Marsh Arabs have returned homeÑand thousands more are expected. Yet these families who have been living in poverty for a decade are returning to little or no infrastructure of any kind, and scant opportunity for work. They have no access to potable water and the health clinics in the villages are already struggling to meet the high incidents of typhoid, dysentery, and skin lesions that are plaguing the local population.