Iraqi PM makes first visit to protest-hit Basra amid water crisis

Iraqi PM makes first visit to protest-hit Basra amid water crisis
1 min read
20 January, 2019
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi visited Basra Sunday, his first trip as prime minister to the southern province where lagging services spawned a water crisis and deadly protests last summer.
A water crisis in southern Iraq has triggered regular protests, including 'yellow vest' copycats [Getty]
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi visited Basra on Sunday, his first trip as prime minister to the southern province where lagging services spawned a water crisis and deadly protests last summer.

Mahdi's office said he visited several infrastructure and service projects in the oil-rich province, including water provision services in the Shatt al-Arab area.

"He called for redoubled efforts so these projects can be accomplished as quickly as possible," his office said.

In the summer of 2018, an unprecedented water crisis in Basra left 100,000 people hospitalised and sparked a massive protest movement that resulted in a dozen dead.

The provincial capital is still rocked by demonstrations every Friday demanding more access to drinking water, steady electricity and jobs for unemployed youth.

After his appointment in October, Mahdi pledged to present a plan to fulfill these demands within his first 100 days in office.

But it has yet to be announced and the premier is still struggling to finalize the formation of his cabinet.

The real test, observers say, will be Iraq's sweltering summer months, when temperatures rise to more than 50 degrees Celsius and shortages of water and electricity can be life-threatening.