A Quarter of Iraq's Population Lives Below the Poverty Line

Displaced women at a camp in Amriyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad (EPA)
Displaced women at a camp in Amriyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad (EPA)
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A Quarter of Iraq's Population Lives Below the Poverty Line

Displaced women at a camp in Amriyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad (EPA)
Displaced women at a camp in Amriyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad (EPA)

A quarter of Iraq's population lives below the poverty line, despite the estimated $100 billion reserves at the Central Bank of Iraq, the largest in the country's modern history, according to bank sources.

Economists and finance experts believed Iraq's problem was not related to its wealth but to lousy management and unfair distribution.

Last week, the Central Bank announced that its foreign cash reserves exceeded $99 billion, an unparalleled record since 1960.

According to the predictions of the Ministry of Planning, the poverty rate in the country has risen to 25 percent, an increase of about three percent from 2019.

The Ministry's spokesman Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi said the last data of poverty rates stood approximately 22.5 percent in 2019, before the pandemic.

Hindawi added that the high poverty rate is due to several reasons, including the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and the economic crisis that resulted from the drop in oil prices.

He said that the government took several measures to support the vulnerable and the poor, such as raising the salaries of those covered by social care and improving the ration card system that provides basic foodstuff to Iraqi families.

Considering the numbers of the Ministry, there are more than ten million poor people in the country, with a total population of 42 million people in 2022.

Early in 2022, the former Minister of Planning, Khaled Battal al-Najm, said the repercussions of the pandemic increased the number of the poor in Iraq, reaching 11.4 million individuals, and the poverty rate rose to 31.7 percent from 20 percent in 2018.

The new predictions did not refer to the regions and governorates with the highest poverty rates.

Previous data showed that half of the population in the southern governorates of Muthanna, Diwaniyah, Dhi Qar, and Maysan were at poverty levels. The ratio was about ten percent in the northern and western governorates.

Financial experts predicted that the ongoing fluctuation in the exchange rate would increase the suffering of low-income families, given the rise in the prices of goods.

The exchange rate went as far as 1,600 dinars per dollar during the week in the local markets, while the official exchange rate stands at 1,446 dinars.

The high poverty rate was often linked to the lack of job opportunities, the high cost of living, and the rise in the price of properties, prompting many low-income families to live in agricultural and state-owned lands, known as "slums."

Experts estimate that the country needs at least two million new housing units to overcome the housing crisis that burdens citizens.

The parliamentary investment committee says the solution lies in building large housing complexes to absorb overpopulation in areas that lack housing units.

The committee said the housing crisis and projects extend to all governorates.

However, experts believe the crisis is solely linked to bad management.

The northern Kurdistan governorates do not suffer from a housing crisis like the central and southern areas.



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.