Update: Lebanon and Iraq protests
Mass demonstrations continue in Iraq and Lebanon with more and more people taking to the streets to demand an end to alleged government corruption. Sadly, there have been numerous reports of security forces using excessive force and violence to disperse protestors and clear roadblocks in both countries. In Iraq, over 320 protestors have reportedly been killed after security forces used live fire and tear gas to try to quell protests.
In Lebanon, since mid-October, major roads have been blocked, and many banks, government buildings, schools and universities remain closed. So far, one protestor has reportedly been killed. It is anticipated that violence will escalate as tensions remain high.
Islamic Relief reflects on recent escalation of violence in Iraq
Najat Elhamri, Islamic Relief’s Head of Middle East Region, said:
“The recent escalation of violence in many parts of Iraq and the rising reports of civilian casualties are of concern to Islamic Relief.
“To date, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost and thousands of people have been seriously injured in the ongoing violence.
“We urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to ensure that civilians are protected. The international community also needs to step up and do more to help alleviate the harsh economic situation.
“The fragile economic situation, exasperated by years of political instability and the regional turmoil has fuelled resentment especially among the young and the people our teams speak to say they are consumed by worry over ever-rising unemployment, the rising cost of living and the stagnating wages. They are growing desperate and not sure how they will make ends meet.
“To ensure we can breathe hope back into a country that has been home to so much suffering over the last few decades, the international community needs to come together and once again prioritise Iraq.
“Iraq needs a wide-ranging investment in education and jobs training as well as wide-reaching support for the economy to allow it to develop so more people can rise out of poverty and live in safety and dignity.
“Despite the chronic insecurity and volatile context, Islamic Relief is continuing to work in those areas which are highly risk and security prone. Our projects include food, water, sanitation, health and education. These programmes also aim to battle violence against women and support people’s livelihoods. Much more needs to be done and donors need to step up and not forget the people of Iraq who have lived through decades of suffering already.”
Islamic Relief has been operating in Iraq since 1997 and helped improve life for hundreds of thousands of people, affected by war, displacement and economic inequality.