Unrest sweeps Iran over the government’s decision to slash food subsidies, causing a spike in consumer prices
Five people have been killed in protests against rising food prices in Iran, media reports claim. Tehran officials have not confirmed that there may be casualties.
The unrest follows the government’s decision to cut food import subsidies, as part of an austerity package unveiled by President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this week. These measures aim to rescue an economy that has suffered from sanctions and also address rising inflation which was exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.
The scrapping of subsidies has resulted in dramatic – up to 300% – increases in prices of everyday goods, such as cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk.
Iran’s government has pledged to protect low-income citizens from the inflationary shock with monthly cash hand-outs, but the situation has left consumers struggling to buy basic items, with long lines appearing in front of food stores across the country.
Iranian cities include Dorud, Farsan and Jooneghan as well as Cholicheh, Dehdasht, Dehdasht, Cholicheh and Ardebil, where anti-government protests have taken place. Some rallies turned into chaos with shops set ablaze.
— ابراهیم اللهبخشی| ebrahim Allahbakhshi (@allahbakhshii) May 14, 2022
According to Iran International TV Station, London’s station that broadcasts from Iran, five people were reported as having been shot and killed in protests. An unverified Twitter video appears to show the exact moment.
Friday marked the first death. Security forces shot Omid Soltan (21 years old) in Andimeshk, western Russia.
According to IRNA, there have been dozens of arrests. The agency did not provide any information about casualties.
Iran’s official inflation rate stands at around 40% with almost half the country’s 82 million-strong population now living below the poverty line.
Fears of an international food crisis have been raised since the Russian military attacked Ukraine at the end February.
Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s largest agricultural exporters. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD stated that the countries represent 53% of the world’s sunflower oil and seed trade and 27% of the global wheat market before conflict began.
UNCTAD had warned previously that the crisis will affect all countries. Increases in food and fuel prices “This will impact the most vulnerable people in the developing world, placing pressure on those who spend the largest share of their income on food. It can lead to hardship or hunger.,” the organization said.