People waiting for bread in Zahedan during a shortage in January 2023

People waiting for bread in provincial capital Zahedan during a shortage in January 2023

Majority In Iran’s Sistan Province In Dire Poverty, Lawmaker Says

Wednesday, 04/05/2023

An Iranian lawmaker representing the mainly Sunni Muslim southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province says the poverty in the region has reached extreme levels.

Member of Parliament, Mohammad Sargazi, said most citizens consume water, tomato paste and bread as their main meal.

Sistan and Baluchestan is the poorest province of Iran with a population of around 4 million, including 700,000 Afghan nationals.

During the past years, this region has experienced many crises, including shortage of fuel, bread, and drinking water, as well as drought, widespread unemployment and increasing poverty.

Despite frequent promises to improve the situation, successive administrations have done little to invest in the region, create jobs, build housing or even decent schools. Some children study outdoors, while teenagers smuggle small quantities of fuel to neighboring Pakistan to make some money.

Narcotics smuggling from Afghanistan is also a serious problem in the region, with hundreds of small-time traffickers executed each year according to Iran's tough criminal laws.

In the recent popular protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, Sistan-Baluchestan has had the highest number of victims among 31 provinces.

The Islamic Republic has been struggling with high inflation since 2019, but the raging inflation in the past Iranian year which ends on March 20, was seriously different from previous years.

Food prices continue to climb as the national currency declined by 50 percent in the past six months. According to the report of the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI), in some months, the food and beverages inflation hit 87%.

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