‘There is an immediate need to secure the dams that are under the control of the regime to prevent deliberate flooding downstream which may harm the people of Iraq,’ a statement issued by the group said. Longer-term projects include restoring of the marshes of southern Iraq, studying basin-wide resource management strategies, and a moratorium on dam construction, which the group said in some cases the government used to displace local communities by diverting water supply.

Other issues raised by the group included mapping sites of battlefield contamination, determining quarantine areas for disposal of equipment and contaminated materials, creating a public awareness programme and handling of hazardous equipment and materials.

The water group is one of 17 set up in 2002 to develop plans for the reconstruction of Iraq.