Protesters block Iraq’s Umm Qasr port, halting operations

“Halting the entry of commodities will cause a huge increase in the price of goods and create negative results.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Protesters near Iraq’s southern Basra province have blocked the entrance to the Umm Qasr commodities port, halting operations on Wednesday.

Demonstrators used tires, stones, and metals to block the main entrance of the port on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Umm Qasr receives imports of grain, vegetable oils, and sugar shipments and is one of the most significant ports in Iraq.

The port was operating at 20 percent on Tuesday, but completely stopped operations on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

An official at the port told Reuters that protestors had blocked the main entrance, adding that “trucks that carry goods can’t enter or leave the facility.”

“Halting the entry of commodities will cause a huge increase in the price of goods and create negative results,” port officials said in a statement.

Protests in Iraq began on Friday, quickly turning violent as they continued on Wednesday for the sixth day. They have reportedly resulted in the death of at least 250 individuals.

Another bout of demonstrations earlier in the month went on for about a week, leaving at least 140 dead.

Demonstrators have been calling for an end to the economic woes of the people of Iraq—demands that have been repeatedly made during such protests.

In a statement on Tuesday, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, condemned “in the strongest terms the rising number of deaths and injuries during the demonstrations engulfing many parts of Iraq.”

Related Article: UN Iraq representative condemns civilian deaths in nationwide protests

Protesters continue to call for a complete governmental overhaul amid shortages of public services, high rates of unemployment, and chronic institutional corruption.