The Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) has warned that the Iraqi city and governorate of Basra is suffering from an increasingly high poverty rate, with almost 40 per cent of residents now living below the poverty line.
The poverty rate in the southern province of Basra and its port city has sharply increased since the former Iraqi Planning Minister Nuri Al-Dulaimi predicted back in May that the coronavirus pandemic would cause Iraq's poverty rate to rise by over 20 per cent.
The UN then predicted that same month that the poverty rate in the country as a whole would double to 40 per cent this year.
The primary reason for the sharp increase in the poverty rate is reportedly due to the pandemic causing a halt in trading and the work of civilians, as well as the reduction in oil production and sales. The country's monthly oil revenues notably decreased from six to $1.4 billion between the months of February and April, causing the Iraqi economy to significantly contract.
A statement by OHCHR today, which was obtained by the Iraqi news outlet Rudaw Media Network, it stated that the increased poverty means that the Iraqi government must "bring justice to its unemployed graduates and non-graduates." It asserted that money from work contracts which have not yet been paid must be released "to those who deserve it with dignity".
It added that "the time has come to distribute wealth fairly and to be honest in its international and constitutional obligations, and to work to legislate the law of oil, gas and other wealth." It also stressed on the provinces' local government to evenly and fairly distribute the wealth from such industries and to not gain from them themselves.