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Thousands of protesters block traffic in Iraq’s Basra over delayed salaries

December 21, 2020 at 9:00 am

An Iraqi protester carries a placard which reads in Arabic “I want a homeland, I want a salary, I want a home, I want a share of provisions” during an anti-government demonstration in the southern city of Basra on 13 November 2020. [HUSSEIN FALEH/AFP via Getty Images]

Thousands of protesters yesterday blocked several main roads leading to oil installations and bridges in oil-rich Basra in southern Iraq demanding the government to pay their delayed salaries.

Eyewitnesses said the protesters, who work as day-rate employees in government institutions including energy facilities, demonstrated in several areas in the province demanding the government pay their salaries which they have not received in months.

According to eyewitnesses the protesters closed the main roads and paralysed traffic including roads leading to the South Oil Refineries Company and the port of Umm Qasr.

Protester Manar Al-Yaqoub said the local administration, in coordination with the federal government, launched the day-rate employment scheme and hired 30,000 people from Basra Governorates.

He added that the scheme went into effect in March, however the employees have not received their salaries since.

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“The committee which supervises the protests has agreed that the demonstrations would turn into civil disobedience and disrupt traffic throughout Basra to pressure the local administration to release our salaries,” he added.

Iraqi authorities had made no official comment on the events.

Last month, the local administration in Basra Governorate announced that funds have been allocated to pay the day-rate employees, but they have not been released yet.

Iraq suffers from a severe financial crisis due to the decline in oil revenues as a result of corruption, the mismanagement of funds and the coronavirus pandemic.