Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poverty Crisis in Iraq Deepens

Who said things were getting better in Iraq?

Iraq is set to halve essential items covered by rations and subsidies because of insufficient funds and spiralling inflation, in a further threat to an already deteriorating ration system.

The plan has prompted criticism from those who have already warned of social unrest if measures are not taken to address rising poverty and unemployment...

"In 2007, we asked for $3.2 billion for rationing basic foodstuffs. But since the prices of imported food stuff doubled in the past year, we requested $7.2 billion for this year. That request was denied."....

The impending move will affect nearly 10 million people who depend on the already fragile rationing system.

Ibraheem Abdullah, a professor and social affairs analyst at Baghdad University, said the government has inadequately measured the alarming rise in poverty since the March 2003 US-led invasion.

"Urgent measures should be taken to prevent the possible chaos that will lead to worsening conditions in the lives of millions of Iraqis when the food ration is reduced," he said.

"The government should give priority to this issue. Where do they expect unemployed families to find the means to purchase food now?"...

Yet up to eight million Iraqis still require immediate emergency aid, with nearly half this number living in "absolute poverty", according to the latest report by Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi groups, including the NGO Coordination Committee of Iraq.|Iraq set to slash food rations - Al Jazeera|

According to the CIA World Factbook, Iraq only has $27 million people, so almost one in three rely on food subsidies simply to survive.

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