EU’s Iraq ambassador gets sick after consuming polluted water in Basra

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The European Union’s ambassador to Iraq said Thursday he had become sick in the city of Basra from polluted water, which has seen tens of thousands of residents hospitalized.

Envoy Ramon Blecua said he felt ill and “had to cancel several meetings” in the southern city. “UNICEF doctor diagnosed the cause as water pollution,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to the United Nations children’s agency.

He said he had not planned “to take my solidarity with the people of Basra that far, but certainly now share how you feel”. More than 90,000 people have been hospitalized in Basra due to polluted water, according to Iraq’s high commission for human rights.

The health crisis also hit a top football club from Baghdad last month, when the al-Hussein team were forced to postpone their Basra match after 10 players became sick from the water.

Thousands of residents have protested against the water crisis and the broader dire state of public services, prompting pledges from Baghdad to improve conditions in the oil-rich southern province.

Blecua said he was in Basra as part of EU efforts to support projects linked to the delivery of services, as well as those related to good governance and job creation.

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