UN urges Iraqi government to address protesters’ demands

Protesters gather near the main provincial government building in Basra, Iraq July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

Baghdad ( The United Nations urged the Iraqi government on Tuesday to address the demands of protesters as demonstrations rage on calling for better services and employment.

Following the demonstrations over the lack of services, job opportunities and to demand improved living conditions, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš, urges the government to fully respect and address the people’s legitimate concerns,” read a statement by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).

Kubis urged “political actors to ensure that the next administration prioritizes good governance, reforms and the fight against corruption that will enable economic development and progress, job creation and delivery of critical public services”.

He also voiced concern regarding the violence as well as acts of vandalism which accompanied some of the otherwise largely peaceful public protests, and regret for the loss of lives on security and protesters’ sides.

While stressing on citizens’ right for peaceful expression of opinion, he called upon security forces to “exercise restraint and avoid use of excessive disproportionate, lethal force”. He also warned against allowing whom he described as “intruders and opportunists to exploit the otherwise legitimate demonstrations for their political purposes, to trigger disturbances”.

Over the past week, Iraq’s southern provinces have been swept by a wave of protests demanding enhanced services like cleaner water and uncut electricity, as well as priority appointment at oil fields. Demonstrators stormed airports and provincial councils as part of their demonstrations.

Iraqi health authorities said earlier today that clashes left eight demonstrators dead so far.

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