UN decries loss of life in Iraq protests


The UN Iraq envoy has condemned the loss of life and destruction of property amid mass protests that rocked several Iraqi provinces in recent days. 

At least 63 people have been killed and more than 2,500 injured since Friday in a fresh wave of demonstrations against government corruption and a lack of basic services.

“It is tragic and unsettling to witness the return of violence, deaths and injuries. Social media restrictions remained in place, while internet access was intermittent,” said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN special representative for Iraq, in a statement.

She said armed groups are seeking to hinder stability in Iraq and undermine the people’s right to protest.

“The protection of human life always comes first. Armed entities sabotaging the peaceful demonstrations, eroding the government’s credibility and ability to act, cannot be tolerated,” she said.

“Iraq has come a long way, and cannot afford to slide back into a new cycle of violence.”

The UN envoy praised Iraqi forces for helping injured demonstrators and ensuring the free movement of medical units, unlike during the first wave of protests earlier this month.

“All parties need to redouble their efforts on the ground to not only prevent provocations and unnecessary confrontations, but also to collectively stand against armed spoilers,” she said.

Discontent has been growing in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

According to World Bank figures, Iraq’s youth unemployment is around 25%. It is also ranked the 12th most-corrupt country in the world according to several transparency organizations.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara
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