ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – People took to the streets of Basra on Sunday, the center Iraq’s oil industry, to protest the lack of services and job opportunities in the region.
Protesters blocked roads, preventing oil company employees from going to work while chanting slogans calling for jobs and the improvement of public services, notably government-supplied electricity.
Witnesses told Kurdistan 24 security forces fired warning shots into the air to disperse crowds of disgruntled civilians gathered on the streets of Bahala, north of Basra city.
The protest later turned to violence as clashes with security prevented media from covering the incident or approach the area.
Local sources said at least one protester was killed in the clashes and two others were injured. Their health conditions have yet to be confirmed.
Pictures and footage posted to social media showed paramedics rushing an injured man to a nearby hospital.
Iraq’s infrastructure remains in poor shape despite 15 years having passed since Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian regime was toppled in 2003.
Iraq heavily suffers from the periodic interruption of drinking water, sanitation, and electricity services as politicians struggle to negotiate the formation of a new government.
The distribution of water and electricity remains one of the biggest issues plaguing Iraq, the second-largest oil exporter in the world.
In the summer season, as temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 F), electricity demands increase as people use air conditioners and cooling fans during more of the day.
In some areas, electricity barely lasts 4 hours a day, making it difficult for people to live comfortably in the scorching heat.
Although the Ministry of Electricity has recently promised to provide enough fuel to power local generators and increase hours of available electricity, people remain cautious of putting their trust in the government’s promises.
Iraq remains high on Transparency International’s corruption index as widespread fraud and mismanagement in state institutions are the most significant challenges facing the country since the fall of the former regime nearly 15 years ago.
According to Transparency International’s Corruption Index in 2017, Iraq ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world: 166 out of 176.
Editing by Nadia Riva