From: Associated Press
Published May 31, 2005 12:00 AM

Tajik Leader Urges More International Aid for Shrinking Aral Sea

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Tajikistan's president called Monday for more international aid to alleviate the ecological damage from Central Asia's shrinking Aral Sea, once one of the world's largest inland bodies of water.

Speaking at an international conference in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, President Emomali Rakhmonov said pledges of help for easing the crisis have not been followed by action.

The Aral Sea has shrunk to half its original size because of drought and overuse of its main river lifelines.

Rakhmonov said he hopes a meeting during the World Water Forum in Mexico next March "will be a turning point in the sad story of the Aral Sea, which is full of declarations about aid but not concrete actions."

A U.N. report last year said the sea was receiving only a tenth of the water it once did because of a regional drought and the excessive use of its main feeder rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya. The report said the sea could disappear altogether in foreseeable future.


The Aral Sea is shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, two other ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia, but Rakhmonov is president of a foundation dedicated to saving the water body.

He spoke on the first day of the three-day International Conference on Regional Cooperation in Transboundary River Basins, which was organized by Tajikistan and supported by U.N. agencies.

Source: Associated Press

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