Human Rights Commission: 111,000 people poisoned due to water pollution in Basra

The European Union Ambassador to Iraq was recently poisoned by drinking contaminated water during a visit to Basra.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Water contamination in the oil-rich city of Basra in southern Iraq has contaminated over 110,000 people, Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) announced on Sunday.

Head of the IHCHR, Mahdi al-Tamimi, revealed that since the start of the new academic year, polluted water had also poisoned some students in the province’s schools.

The Human Rights Commission previously stated that at least 500 students from the country’s southern Basra province intend to move to schools in Erbil.

Tamimi called on the central government in Baghdad and the local government in Basra to take serious measures to find a solution for water salinity and pollution in the province.

Months have passed since the water crisis in Basra province, yet the water is still contaminated and saline, Tamimi added. He said some areas receive water whose quality is similar to sewer water.

During a visit to Basra in early October, the European Union Ambassador to Iraq, Ramon Blecua, said he was poisoned by drinking contaminated water.

“I did [fall] sick this morning and had to cancel several meetings. UNICEF doctor diagnosed the cause as water pollution,” Blecua stated.

“I did not intend to take my solidarity with the people of Basra that far, but certainly now share how you feel,” the EU diplomat wrote on Twitter.

Basra, which accounts for 95 percent of Iraq’s oil exports, has suffered from a lack of clean drinking water in the past few years, with the quality severely deteriorating over the past few months.

Since July 9, people in Basra have staged many protests, which later spread to other Iraqi cities, demanding better public services, clean water, regular electricity supply, employment, and an end to widespread corruption in Iraqi government institutions.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany