- The government described the decisions as a response to the bloody protests in Baghdad and southern cities.
- The housing crisis is one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the demonstrations.
- Unemployment affects about 25% of Iraq's 40 million people, according to World Bank estimates.
The Iraqi government, headed by Adil Abdul-Mahdi, announced a package of resolutions Sunday, following popular demonstrations that took place in several Iraqi cities over the past five days against the deterioration of the economic situation in the country. Following an extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers, the government revealed several urgent decisions on the housing and unemployment crises.
The government described the decisions as a response to the bloody protests in Baghdad and southern cities. The Iraqi government in its statement also referred to both the demonstrators and security service personnel who had been killed as “martyrs.” Accordingly, their families will receive grants under Iraqi law. It also pledged to provide health services to the wounded, who numbered more than 4,000 people, and to pay for their treatment, both inside and outside Iraq.
The government also announced the opening of applications for residential land for low-income people, and expedite the completion of the distribution of 17 thousand land pieces of housing for beneficiaries in the province of Basra, as well as the launch of a national housing program includes the construction of 100,000 housing units distributed to the poorest provinces.
The housing crisis is one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the demonstrations, especially after the evacuation of housing units built without permits. The government’s announced reforms also included the allocation of a grant to 150,000 unemployed people of 175,000 Dinars, equivalent to about $150. The grants will last for three months.
The government responded to the unemployment crisis by announcing the establishment of marketing complexes in commercial areas, to provide about 450,000 jobs. In addition, the government will prepare programs for training and qualification of the unemployed for the labor market, including 150,000 young students and graduates. The government will also open the door for lending to finance small and medium enterprises.
Unemployment affects about 25% of Iraq’s 40 million people, according to World Bank estimates. It also announced reforms to social welfare programs for the needy and poor families. The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mohamed al-Halbousi, for his part, announced he’ll work on wide-ranging reforms and hold corrupt officials accountable, after meeting a group of heads of parliamentary blocs. The Council of Representatives was unable to hold a planned session Sunday.
Demonstrations throughout several Iraqi cities against unemployment, corruption, and deteriorating services witnessed clashes between demonstrators and security forces. At least 100 people were killed, and 4,000 wounded.
Iraq has the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, but 22.5% of their 40 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, the World Bank said in 2014. One in six households in Iraq has a form of food insecurity. Unemployment stood at 7.9% last year, but it was twice as high among young people. Unemployment among those able to work is about 17%.
Iraq is also struggling to recover after a stressful war against the Islamic State, which seized large swathes of the north and west of the country in 2014. The Iraqi government and the World Bank estimated last year that $88 billion would be needed to finance short- and medium-term reconstruction in the country.
About one million people remain displaced from their homes inside Iraq, while 6.7 million people need a form of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations. Living conditions are extremely poor in many war-affected areas.