The number of Iraqis living below the poverty line has increased since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 to one-fifth
of the population, according to figures released by Iraq’s labour ministry on January 25.
"A study conducted by the ministry in coordination with the International Monetary Fund and the
United Nations Development Program [UNDP] shows that 20% of the population is affected by
poverty", Leila Kazem, director-general of the department of social affairs at the labour ministry, told
Agence France-Presse. "Some 2 million Iraqi families live under the poverty line, as
defined by international criteria, which is fixed at one [US] dollar per day per
The decline in living standards is caused by "the rise in unemployment, violence, and the decline in
public sector and civil service jobs", Kazem added.
"The number of people [receiving] social assistance by our minister is dwarfed by the large number
of people in need", she said, adding that "only 171,000 families across the entire country receive
social assistance", compared to the 2 million needing it.
A study released in November 2004 by Iraq’s health ministry in tandem with Norway’s Institute for
Applied International Studies and the UNDP said children are paying the silent cost of the
post-invasion rise in the number of impoverished Iraqi families. Malnutrition rates are now roughly
equal that of Burundi, a central African nation torn by more than a decade of war.
The report added that acute malnutrition among Iraqi children had nearly doubled since the
occupation began, with nearly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting", a condition
characterised by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.
From Green Left Weekly