Protests grip Iraq’s capital and south despite rising toll

Iraqi demonstrators sit on a building during anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq December 8, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 08 December 2019

Protests grip Iraq’s capital and south despite rising toll

  • Late Friday, unidentified gunmen attacked a parking complex near Tahrir
  • Protesters feared it signalled that their movement would be derailed but by Sunday

BAGHDAD: Thousands of Iraqi protesters streamed into streets and public squares in the capital and restive south on Sunday, saying they were not deterred by deadly violence meant to “scare” them.
In Baghdad, crowds of anti-government demonstrators thronged Tahrir Square, the epicenter of their movement.
Late Friday, unidentified gunmen attacked a parking complex near Tahrir where demonstrators had been squatting for weeks, leaving 20 protesters and four police officers dead, medics told AFP.
Protesters feared it signalled that their movement would be derailed but by Sunday, the numbers gathered under the sun in Tahrir were staggering.
“They’re trying to scare us in whatever ways they can, but we’re staying in the streets,” said Aisha, a 23-year-old protester.
At least 452 people — the vast majority of them protesters — have died and 20,000 have been wounded since the rallies erupted.
In Nasiriyah, a protest hotspot where dozens were killed in a spree of violence last month, protesters regrouped in downtown along with representatives of powerful tribes.
“We will keep protesting until the regime collapses,” pledged Ali Rahim, a student.
In other southern cities, local authorities had declared Sunday — the first day of the work week in Iraq — a holiday for civil servants.
Road blocks and massive strikes also disrupted work in Hilla, Amara, Diwaniya, Kut and the shrine city of Najaf, AFP’s correspondents there said.
The rallies have persisted despite the resignation of premier Adel Abdel Mahdi earlier this month, with protesters demanding the complete ouster of the ruling class.
Iraq is ranked the 12th most corrupt country in the world by watchdog group Transparency International, with billions of dollars pilfered each year from the state budget of OPEC’s second-largest producer.


UAE health ministry confirms first coronavirus case

Updated 29 January 2020

UAE health ministry confirms first coronavirus case

  • Patients' health stable and is under medical observation
  • General health situation was not a cause for concern, ministry says

DUBAI: The UAE’s Ministry of Health confirmed its first cases coronavirus  -  members of a family from China’s Wuhan province, state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.

The ministry added the patients’ health was stable and under medical observation. This is the first case of the disease to be confirmed in the Middle East.

It also confirmed that, in coordination with health authorities, the UAE government had taken necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The general health situation was not a cause for concern, the statement from the ministry added.

The ministry stressed that the epidemiological investigation centers in the country were working to report any cases of the virus, stressing that the health system in the country works very efficiently and that the ministry was closely following the situation in a way that guarantees the health and safety of everyone.