Iraq, the war in Ukraine causes a food shortage, while the institutions are still hostage to the divisions between Sunni sadrists and pro-Iranian Shiites

BAGHDAD (AsiaNews) – The effects of the war in Ukraine – it has been said many times – have repercussions not only in Europe, where the risk of an energy crisis increases with the cut of supplies from Moscow or the embargo of the EU on Russian imports, but also in other regions of the world, including Iraq, where the food emergency caused by the rise in prices is taking hold. The theme of food crises in countries already impoverished by wars and where the politico-institutional balances are shaken, is at the center of the intervention strategies of many international humanitarian organizations. The Baghdad government is trying to act by allocating additional funds to ensure the stabilization of the raw material supply chain. However, in many cases these are buffer measures that cannot be sustained over time and for this reason long-term policies are under consideration.

The pattern of denominational divisions is not outdated. During the last period, Iraq – teaches us Asia News – he exceeded all the deadlines set by the Constitution to appoint the Prime Minister, form the new government and elect the President of the Republic, the day after the legislative elections of October 2021. On three occasions, Parliament failed to an agreement on behalf of the President of the Republic, for the impossibility of reaching the quorum to be able to call for the vote caused by the game of boycotts and cross vetoes. Last October’s vote, at first, seemed able to overcome the eternal pattern of sectarian cleavages and sectarian affiliations that has characterized the institutional scene since the fall of the rais Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, once again the situation seems to be repeating itself, dragging the country – already grappling with a complex economic situation – into an endless stalemate which has prompted the Chaldean patriarch in recent days to launch a new appeal to relaunch the talks and reach a political agreement.

Responses from government and humanitarian organizations. The dispute between Moscow and kyiv, two of the world’s top wheat-producing countries, has sparked a price hike in the Arab nation, whose leaders have launched an internal campaign to monitor markets and product costs. As al-Monitor reports, some foods saw increases of 20%, particularly among wheat-derived preparations – such as pasta and desserts – in addition to cooking oil. In response, the government decided to grant Iraqi farmers an additional 30% for the sale of their grain. Support for national production and to ensure the distribution of all resources for domestic use, combined with loans to entrepreneurs in the sector at subsidized rates from the Agricultural Bank and other national credit institutions. In addition, Baghdad intends to grant the poorest families 100,000 dinars (about 64 euros) and has been open for three months to imports of all products without exception, to guarantee their availability on the markets.

The 10 essential raw materials. Added to this was a bill under study on food security and the development of production, with a first reading in Parliament on 28 March. The Ministry of Finance intends to create a fund called “Support for food security and development, financial prevention and poverty reduction” which will intervene in critical situations. However, the law has already met with opposition from some parliamentarians for whom it will be an additional source of corruption, in a country already marked by robberies and public embezzlement. The current system of support for poor families through state vouchers covers 10 products: rice, sugar, tea, oil, flour, lentils, beans, yellow corn, tomato paste and some cleaning items such as soap. The law would like to guarantee greater funds for shopping and the purchase of products to be included in the food basket, to be distributed to the most needy. A system already used in the past – set up on a large scale in 1990 by the raìs of the time Saddam Hussein – to encourage the purchase of basic necessities at a controlled price.

The poverty rate is 23%. According to Jawad Amir, professor of chemistry in Baghdad, the government’s measures are not sufficient to help and support the most fragile layers of the Iraqi population. “Citizens – he explains – are directly affected by price increases. At the same time, salaries and social funds remain the same. This shows that the authorities have no control over the domestic market and it is a source of concern for people”. Today, the poverty rate in Iraq has reached 23% of the total population and the unemployment rate has reached 14%, with the highest levels in the central and southern governorates. At the same time, cases of suicide among the population are increasing, as many are no longer able to provide for the needs of the family in a national political framework that remains unstable.

The Asianews campaign. In this difficult social situation, AsiaNews continues its campaign “Adopt a Mosul Christian“Launched in 2014 to support Christians who fled following the rise of the Islamic State. Our initiative continues today to support families in need and contribute to reconstruction projects: here is all the information to join.

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