BAGHDAD, Aug 29, (Agencies): The Iraqi Human Rights Commission on Wednesday asked the Iraqi Government to announce Basra a disaster-stricken city because of the water crisis that is causing thousands of people to fall ill.
In a press conference on the situation in Basra, a delegation of the Commission to the city called on the Iraqi Council of Ministers “to announce the Basra Governorate a disaster afflicted region as it is currently under the standard of human living and earmark a special budget for it to improve its health and environmental conditions.”
The delegation also asked for forming contingency team by the local Federal and Governmental Ministries with credible authority to put forth possible solutions for this crisis, as well as releasing financial allocations for Basra as soon as possible.
The statement called on the Minister of Water Resources to issue a directive to release water for emergency purposes from Shatt Al-Arab, the primary source of drinking water in the governorate. It urged for allocating financial compensations to citizens who have been affected with environmental, health, and living pollution, ensure medical supplies, treatment and relieve them of treatment costs at hospitals. A request was also directed to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to investigate and bring into account ministers accused of slackness and negligence in addressing this dangerous humanitarian crisis.
The statement appealed to civil society organizations, the United Nations and the World Health Organization to urgently launch medical and humanitarian relief campaigns for the governorate, especially in areas most affected by the pollution.
Up to 18,000 cases of diarrhea, colic, acute gastroenteritis and vomiting cases for all age groups have been registered since Aug 12 until now, revealed the statement. Health institutions, according to the commission records, did not run proper tests to determine exact type of pollution. Moreover, there is lack of specialized chemical laboratories in Basra and delay of dispatching scooped up water samples to the Ministry of Health labs in Baghdad.
Moreover, Basra governorate lacks water desalination plants and majority of the existing small ones are not working due to nonexistence of maintenance. Iraq’s Prime Minister announced yesterday that the Council of Ministers decided to investigate causes of low chlorine in water in Basra and to present results in one week.
In other news, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in the town of Al-Qaim in western Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 11 people, five of them security personnel, police said. The 9 am (0600 GMT) bombing at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Al-Qaim also wounded 16 people – 11 civilians and five security personnel, police Captain Mahmud Jassem told AFP. The town, on the Syrian border some 340 kilometres (215 miles) from Baghdad, was one of the last in Iraq to be recaptured from the Islamic State group in November last year.