On September 19, the High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) in Iraq announced that more than 70,000 civilians had been hospitalized due to water pollution in the southern province of Basra. The commission also confirmed that several areas in the province are still without drinking water.
“The House of Representatives should intervene to improve the quality of life in Basra by pressing for the implementation of three basic demands: solving the crisis of salinity and water pollution, providing 10,000 jobs for the unemployed, and granting the province financial allocations to enable the implementation of service projects,” Mahdi Tamimi, head of the HCHR office in Basra said in a statement.
Prior to the HCHR statement, newly-elected speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mohamed al-Halbousi, arrived in Basra and met with its governor Asaad al-Eidani. During the meeting, both sides discussed the causes of the humanitarian crisis in the oil rich province.
“Basra is the economic lung of Iraq … there is weakness and absence of planning in the institutions in general and we will work to find urgent solutions to that problem,” al-Halbousi said during the meeting, according to the UK-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.
In July, tens of thousands of civilians began protesting in Basra against corruption and a lack of basic public services. The protests reached its peak on the 6the and 7th of this month when the protestors set fire to buildings of several government and political parties and stormed the Iranian consulate in the southern city.
Following these events, the protests were halted and the Iraqi government and parliament promised to resolve the problems in Basra and improve the quality of life there. However, the government is yet to take any real action, likely due the current political crisis in the country.