ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – In a reflection of the devastation caused by the Islamic State’s (ISIS) rapid conquest of western and northern regions of Iraq in 2014, the poverty rate in Iraq increased dramatically between 2013 and 2014.
“The poverty rate during 2010 in Iraq was 23 percent, but that rate decreased to become 15 percent by 2013,” read a statement released Sunday by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning. “However, during 2014 and after the ISIS attacks, the rate of poverty rose again to settle at around 22.5 percent.”
ISIS first swept into Iraq in 2014, capturing cities across northern and central Iraq including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the capital of Nineveh province.
At the height of its power, ISIS controlled a contiguous area of Iraq and Syria equivalent in size to the entire United Kingdom, subjecting close to ten million people to its extreme interpretation of Islam.
ISIS also caused the forced displacement of more than a million Iraqis who fled the organization’s brutal violence. These internally displaced people (IDP’s) moved into camps, mostly located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
According to a November 2019 report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 6 million Iraqis were displaced from 2014 to 2017 due to the fight against ISIS. Despite the territorial defeat of ISIS in March of last year, 1.5 million Iraqis remain in camps.
“The Iraqi Ministry of Planning is aiming to reduce the rate of poverty once again in Iraq to 16 percent by the end of 2022,” the statement went on to say.
The highest poverty rate in Iraq was reported in the southern province of Muthana, with 52 percent of the population living in poverty.
Sulaimani province, in the Kurdistan Region, registered the country’s lowest poverty rate at 4.5 percent.
According to the ministry statement, the poverty rate was high in all of Iraq’s southern provinces. It was also notably high in the northern province of Nineveh, one of the regions most heavily affected by the ISIS invasion.
The high rate of poverty in the southern Iraq provinces triggered nationwide protests against poverty, corruption, unemployment, and lack of basic services. Iraqis have been on the streets since October, demanding a complete structural overhaul to their constitution and government.
More than 600 Iraqis have been killed and around 18,000 more have been wounded since October 1, according to Amnesty International.