In Basra, Iraq health officials have shut down around 100 unlicensed water desalination stations. The shutdowns come after the discovery of an outbreak of dysentery among Basra residents. Basra’s Department of Health Inspections head Zaki Abdulsadda told local press that the region has been experiencing a drastic case of water contamination as of late and the majority of residents are suffering from severe stomach pain and diarrhea, at a minimum.

Abdulasadda stated that, “The province of Basra has suffered a number of cases of diarrhea due to water contamination and our inspections department has launched a campaign to combat this. As a result, a number of desalination stations have been shut down that weren’t suitable to operate. Apart from bad quality work they did not have any license to work either.” So far over 500 citizens have been sent to the hospital due to the contaminated water.

Iraqi Health officials have recommended Basra citizens follow governmental health instructions to the letter and, prior to consumption, boil all tap water. The news is late to the part as much of the national protests that centered in Basra were over unclean drinking water and serious infrastructure issues.

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s direct representative Najaf Abdulmahdi al-Karbalai, who is the primary imam, held a sermon that centered around criticism towards the Iraqi central government and their poor handling of not only national issues but the water crises afflicting the country. Al-Karbalai stated that, “The human, patriotic and religious duties call on the authorities and relevant institutions to work together to put an end to the sufferings of the people of Basra. We also call on the government to find a lasting solution for this water contamination problem.” The water crisis in Iraq must be handled swiftly before the nation descends into further chaos.