Government’s decision to cut food subsidies has sparked unrest in Iran, pushing up consumer prices
Five people have been killed in protests in Iran over rising food prices, media reports say. Tehran officials did not confirm any casualties.
The unrest erupted after the government’s decision to reduce food import subsidies as part of a austerity package unveiled by President Ibrahim Raisi earlier this week. The measures are aimed at rescuing an economy crippled by sanctions, and rising inflation, which has been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.
As a result of the abolition of subsidies, the prices of daily necessities like cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk have risen dramatically – up to 300%.
The Iranian government has promised to protect low-income citizens from the shock of inflation with monthly cash handouts, but the situation has made it difficult for consumers to buy basic items, with long lines lined up in front of food stores across the country.
Anti-government rallies have spread in Iran, including in Dorud, Farsan, Junghan, Borujerd, Cholicheh, Dehdashat and Ardebil. Some gatherings fell into disarray, and shops were set on fire.
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On Sunday, the London-based Iran International TV station quoted an unsupported social media post as saying that five people had been killed during the protests since Friday, with an unconfirmed video on Twitter showing the moment when one of them was shot.
The first death was reported on Friday. Omid Soltan, 21, was reportedly shot dead by security forces in the western city of Andimesek.
Dozens of people have been arrested, according to the official IRNA news agency, who did not provide any information on casualties.
Iran’s official inflation rate stands at about 40%, with nearly half of the country’s 82 million-strong population now living below the poverty line.
Since Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine began in late February, global food prices have skyrocketed, raising fears of a global food crisis.
Russia and Ukraine are the two largest agricultural exporters in the world. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the two countries represented 53% of global trade in sunflower oil and seeds and 27% of global wheat before the conflict began.
UNCTAD had earlier warned that all countries would be affected by the crisis. Rising food and fuel pricesAffects the weakest in developing countries, puts pressure on poor families who spend most of their income on food, causing misery and hungerThe company said.