Iraqi Campaign Against Slum Areas Drives Protests In Karbala

Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a news conference with Leader of the Conquest Coalition and the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Badr Organisation Hadi al-Amiri, in Najaf, Iraq June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani/File Photo
Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a news conference with Leader of the Conquest Coalition and the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Badr Organisation Hadi al-Amiri, in Najaf, Iraq June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani/File Photo
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Iraqi Campaign Against Slum Areas Drives Protests In Karbala

Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a news conference with Leader of the Conquest Coalition and the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Badr Organisation Hadi al-Amiri, in Najaf, Iraq June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani/File Photo
Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a news conference with Leader of the Conquest Coalition and the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Badr Organisation Hadi al-Amiri, in Najaf, Iraq June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani/File Photo

Hundreds of Iraqis protested Thursday in Karbala against a campaign launched by authorities few weeks ago in several provinces, against slum areas built illegally on state lands.

The province of Karbala had witnessed on Wednesday an unprecedented campaign against those random houses, while the Baghdad municipality is seen removing, daily, several abuses in the capital’s neighborhoods.

However, the campaign received conflicting reactions across the country: One group supports the authorities’ move to only punish big dwellers, however, calling on the government to provide abusers with alternative housing, while another group calls for the removal of those exploitations, a move necessary for the implementation of law.

On Thursday, Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr commented on the campaign, and called on the authorities to open party headquarters for the poor whose houses were demolished.

In a tweet posted on his account, Sadr wrote, “It’s an ugly thing to stand against the poor, demolish his house while he has no other place to go, no work or salary to rent another house.”

Meanwhile, the Karbala governorate decided to stop on Thursday its campaign against poor houses exclusively, however, it asserted continuing to remove abuses in the streets and to demolish illegal houses whose owners possess another land or are paid high salaries.

On Wednesday, security forces, stationed at the door of the Karbala governorate building, tried to disperse demonstrators organized by the owners of random houses that were demolished by the municipality.

The protesters were trying to break into the council building and crossed the concrete and human checkpoints in front of the building's door, according to a reporter of the NINA news agency.

Last March, the Iraqi Planning Ministry said there were 3,700 random housings across the country, with Baghdad alone holding 1002 of such habitats.



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.