EU envoy treated after drinking tainted water in Basra

By Ali Jawad

BAGHDAD (AA) – EU Ambassador to Iraq Ramon Blecua suffered temporary poisoning on Thursday after drinking contaminated water during a visit to the southern Basra province, according to a local government source.

Blecua arrived in Basra on Wednesday to inspect several public utility projects, the source, a member of Basra’s local government, told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media.

After drinking tainted water, Blecua was taken to a hotel in Basra city for treatment by medical staff, the source said without elaborating on the ambassador’s current condition.

The Iraqi authorities, for their part, have yet to comment on the reported incident.

Last month, Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights, a parliamentary body, said more than 70,000 Basra residents had suffered temporary poisoning due to tainted drinking water.

And in August, Iraq’s Water Resources Ministry reported that the percentage of dissolved salts had reached 7,500 tds (total dissolved solids) in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, Basra’s main source of potable water.

Since early July, Iraq’s Shia-majority southern and central provinces — especially Basra — have been rocked by a wave of popular protest which at one point spread to capital Baghdad.

Demonstrators demand improved public utilities, especially water and electricity; more job opportunities; and an end to perceived government corruption.

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