EU Ambassador to Iraq Ramon Blecua on Thursday suffered a bout of food poisoning after drinking contaminated water during a visit to Iraq’s southern province of Basra.
Blecua arrived in Basra on Wednesday to visit several public utility projects, a source from Basra’s provincial administration told Anadolu Agency.
After drinking Basra’s tainted water, Blecua was taken to a hotel in Basra city and treated by medical staff, the source added.
“Thanks to all that have checked on my health. I did fell sick this morning and had to cancel several meetings. UNICEF doctor diagnosed the cause as water pollution. I did not intend to take my solidarity with the people of Basra that far, but certainly now share how you feel,” Blecua stated on his official Twitter account.
In September, Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights, a parliamentary body, stated that more than 70,000 Basra residents had suffered temporary poisoning due to contaminated drinking water.
Since early July, Iraq’s Shia-majority southern and central provinces - especially people in Basra - have staged protests which eventually spread to other Iraqi cities, including the capital of Baghdad. Demonstrators demand better public services, clean water, regular electricity supply, employment, and an end to widespread corruption in Iraqi government institutions.
Exports from Basra account for 95 percent of Iraq’s oil revenue. The country is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC.
Iraq remains high on Transparency International’s list of national levels of corruption as widespread fraud and mismanagement in state institutions are some of the most significant challenges facing the country since the fall of the former regime.
According to the group’s 2017 Corruption Index, Iraq ranks 166, the tenth most corrupt country out of a total of 176.