Afghanistan’s most significant wetland area is now almost as dry as a bone, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Satellite imagery shows that 99 percent of the Sistan wetlands, which stretch into Iran, have dried out since 1998. The main source of water to the wetlands, the Helmand River, has been flowing at far below normal levels. Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, Afghanistan’s minister of irrigation, water resources, and the environment, said today that he hoped to have $20 million to spend on environmental work this year after the country finalizes its first national budget next month. Alluding to Afghanistan’s many years of war and violence, Nuristani said research by UNEP “makes it clear how conflict causes environmental destruction.” He added that “continued environmental depletion and scarcity of natural resources will cause further conflict” unless stronger systems of environmental management are put into place.