Iraqi Marsh Arabs stand in front of their homes southeast of Basra.
Iraqi marsh Arabs stand in front of their home in the marshlands, 80 km (50 miles) southeast of Basra, 550 km (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad August 29, 2005. The ancient Iraqi marshlands drained by Saddam Hussein as punishment against their occupants are back to almost 40 percent of their former level, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Wednesday. "The near total destruction of the Iraqi marshlands under the regime of Saddam Hussein was a major ecological and human disaster, robbing the Marsh Arabs of a centuries-old culture and way of life as well as food in the form of fish and that most crucial of natural resources, drinking water," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director. Picture taken August 29, 2005. REUTERS/Atef Hassan CJF