By Ali Jawad
Dozens of local residents on Tuesday staged an open-ended sit-in in Iraq’s southern city of Basra to protest what they describe as the government’s failure to deal with worsening water and environmental pollution.
At the sit-in, which was held in Basra’s Al-Tiran Square, protester Rafed al-Kenani told Anadolu Agency that the sit-in was organized after numerous local residents suffered temporary poisoning after drinking tainted tap water.
Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources recently reported that the percentage of dissolved salts had recently reached 7,500
According to the World Health Organization, drinking water should not exceed 1,200
Last Thursday, Iraq’s state-run human rights commission acknowledged that thousands of Basra residents had suffered temporary poisoning after drinking tainted water.
Since early July, Iraq’s Shia-majority southern and central provinces have been rocked by popular protests, which at one point spread to capital Baghdad.
Demonstrators demand improved public utilities, including water and electricity, more employment opportunities, and an end to alleged government corruption.
Meanwhile, negotiations over the outlines of Iraq’s next government remain underway between the country’s leading political parties and blocs following hotly-disputed parliamentary polls held in May.