Carp ‘annihilated’ as Iraq’s water pollution woes worsen

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Dead carp float in the Euphrates river, near the town of Hindiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
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Government employees collect dead carp from the Euphrates River, near the town of Hindiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Carp ‘annihilated’ as Iraq’s water pollution woes worsen

HINDIYAH, Iraq: Iraqi officials and fishermen are at a loss to explain how hundreds of tons of carp have suddenly died in fish farms in the Euphrates River, fueling anxieties about soaring water pollution.
Local authorities used excavators to skim dead fish from the river surface near the town of Hindiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, where residents and local farmers have long complained about substandard water management.
The fish were being farmed in cages for sale in domestic markets, where grilled carp is considered a national dish, called masgouf.
Ayad Talibi, head of Iraq’s Fish Producers’ Syndicate, called it “annihilation” and a blow to the country’s “strategic fish reserve.”
Water pollution and scarcity have been on the forefront of Iraqi discourse after matters reached crisis levels last summer.
Health officials said some 100,000 people were taken to hospital for stomach illnesses in the southern Basra province, where sludge and yellow water was recorded flowing out of the taps. Demonstrators rioted, demanding better services.
Iraqi officials could not say for certain what caused the fish die out. Wissam Muslani, deputy governor for Babil province, which includes Hindiyah, said initial tests suggested it was the result of a virus that infected the gills.
But scientists speculated in media that the annihilation may have caused by low oxygen levels, agricultural runoff or wastewater pollution.
Ali Akbar, a medical officer for the World Health Organization, called it a “man-made disaster,” and advised Iraqis to stop eating fish.
“My first message is that make sure nobody eats any fish. And my second message is make sure that no fisherman does fishing these days until all this is cleaned,” he said.
Photos and video of the carp-clogged Euphrates have had an immediate impact on fish sales, according to fishmongers from Hindiyah to Baghdad.
Ali Ibrahim, a vendor by the side of the highway outside Hindiyah, said he was closing his stall and returning to his family.
“People are no longer eating fish,” said Ibrahim. “It’s all over.”


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 53 min 9 sec ago
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Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.