July 31, 2004 – The UN is warning of a "serious" humanitarian crisis threatening Basra as spotty electricity supply and soaring summer temperatures are aggravating an already critical water shortage in Iraq's second-largest city. Ross Mountain, the United Nations Secretary General's special representative for Iraq, told Reuters that water levels in Basra were between 40-60 percent of the supply required for the more than two million people living in and around that city. "We need all the help we can get. If emergency measures are not taken, there will be loss of life and disease."
Similar water shortages in Basra last summer sparked widespread protest in the largely Shiâ€™ite city in southern Iraq. Already the residents of Basra have begun taking to the streets in protest of this summer's critical situation.