04/28/2022, 11.47
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Ukraine war leaves Iraqi cupboards bare

In the country there is a food crisis, additional funds are urgently needed for the supply of raw materials and price controls. The government wants to strengthen domestic production and study aid for the most vulnerable. About 23% of the total population lives in poverty, the unemployment rate has reached 14%. The AsiaNews campaign. 

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The effects of Russia's war in Ukraine are having repercussions not only in Europe, where there is a growing risk of an energy crisis with the cutting off of supplies from Moscow or the EU embargo on Russian imports, but also in other areas of the world including Iraq, where the food emergency triggered by rising prices is taking center stage.

In these days the Baghdad government is trying to run for cover, allocating additional funds to ensure the stabilization of the supply chain of raw materials. However, in many cases these are buffer measures that cannot be sustained over time and, for this reason, long-term policies are being studied. 

The conflict launched by Moscow against Kiev, two of the main wheat producing countries in the world, has triggered an increase in prices in the Arab nation, whose leaders have launched an internal campaign aimed at monitoring markets and product costs. As al-Monitor reports, some foods have seen increases of 20%, especially among preparations derived from wheat - such as pasta and sweets - as well as cooking oil.

In response, the government has decided to recognize an extra 30% to Iraqi farmers for the sale of their wheat. A support to domestic production and to ensure the distribution of all resources for domestic use, combined with loans to entrepreneurs in the sector through subsidized rates from the Agricultural Bank and other national credit institutions. In addition, Baghdad intends to grant 100 thousand dinars (about 64 euros) to the poorest families and has opened for three months to imports of all products without exception, to ensure their availability in the markets.

Added to this is a draft law under study focused on food security and development of production, with a first reading in Parliament on March 28. The Ministry of Finance intends to create a fund called "Support for food security and development, financial prevention and poverty reduction" that will have to intervene in critical situations. However, the regulation has already met with opposition from some parliamentarians for whom it will be a further source of corruption, in a nation already marked by theft and malfeasance in the public sector. 

The current system of support for poor families through state vouchers covers 10 commodities: rice, sugar, tea, oil, flour, lentils, beans, yellow corn, tomato paste and some cleaning items such as soap. The rule would like to ensure more funds for spending and purchasing products to be included in the food basket, to be distributed to the most needy. This system has already been used in the past - introduced on a large scale in 1990 by the then raìs Saddam Hussein -, to encourage the purchase of goods considered essential at a reduced price.

According to Jawad Amir, professor of chemistry Baghdad, the government's measures are not enough to help and support the most fragile segments 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 internal market and this is a source of concern for people." 

Today, the poverty rate in Iraq has reached 23% of the total population and the unemployment figure has reached 14%, with higher levels in the central and southern governorates. At the same time, cases of suicide are increasing among the population, because many are no longer able to provide for their families in a national political framework that remains unstable.

In an attempt to address this difficult social situation, AsiaNews continues its "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign 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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