Up to 111,000 people affected by water contamination in Iraq's Basra: report

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The protestors also accused the influential political parties of being behind the wide-spread corruption, which led to high unemployment and failure in rehabilitation of the country's electricity, water and other basic services. 

BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) said that up to 111,000 people were affected by contaminated water in Basra in southern Iraq, a local newspaper reported on Monday.

"The deterioration of water continued as the high level of salinity is increasing, turning it to a heavy water," which increased the number of affected people to 111,000, the report said.

Meanwhile, Sayf al-Bader, the spokesman of the Iraqi health ministry, said that "the water supplied by the government-owned purification system is not ideal for drinking."

The IHCHR office late on Sunday asked the federal and the provincial governments to take "clear and serious" stance toward the water issue in Basra, the independent Azzaman newspaper quoted IHCHR report as saying.

"The areas that are located far from the water purification plants may have up to zero Chlorine," al-Bader added.

Basra, the province's capital city which bears the same name, has long witnessed protests among its over two million residents about the collapsing infrastructure, power cuts and corruption.

"Schoolchildren are among the victims who could have been poisoned in educational institutions," the report quoted Mahdi at-Tamimi, director of IHCHR office in Basra, as saying.

Water supply in the province is also widely criticized for high salinity, with dozens of thousands of residents having been hospitalized.