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Iraq's Umm Qasr port operations hit as protesters block entrance

October 29, 2019 at 7:40 pm

The Basra Gateway Terminal, at the Umm Qasr port in Iraq [ICTSI]

Iraq’s Umm Qasr commodities port near Basra was operating at only around 20% of the normal level on Tuesday after protesters blocked its entrance, port employees and local officials said, reports Reuters.

“Port operations were reduced to 20 percent because the replacement workers couldn’t join the work,” said a port manager.

Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets this week in a second wave of protests against a government and a political elite they say is corrupt and out of touch. The death toll since a broader wave of unrest started on October 1 is at least 250.

READ: Rockets fired at Basra airport as violent protests grip Iraq

Umm Qasr receives Iraqi imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar shipments that feed a country largely dependent on imported food.

Local officials say they have held talks with protesters to try to persuade them to allow shift workers to enter the port so it can start operating normally.