At least 254 people have so far lost their lives amid anti-government protests in Iraq that started early October, said a report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on Tuesday.
The report, titled “Demonstrations in Iraq: update, 25 October - 4 November 2019”, said a total of 97 protestors were killed amid the second wave of demonstrations storming capital Baghdad, central and southern territories of the country.
Stressing that UNAMI has found serious human rights violations and abuses during the protests, the report underlined thousands of other protestors were also injured.
The report attributed at least 16 deaths -- and many serious injuries -- to demonstrators being hit by tear gas canisters.
“There is no justification for security forces to fire tear gas canisters or sound and flash devices directly at unarmed demonstrators,” said Danielle Bell, chief of the UNAMI Human Rights Office.
UN’s earlier report covering the first wave of protests in Iraq had said a total of 157 protestors were killed and 5,494 others were wounded.
Iraq has been rocked by a second wave of protests that began on Oct. 25 against deep-seated corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services.
Anger has been building in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many people in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.
According to World Bank figures, Iraq's youth unemployment is around 25%. It is also ranked the 12th most-corrupt country in the world by several transparency organizations.