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Archbishop of Mosul Calls for Prosection in Assyrian Wedding Fire
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Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Benedict Younan Hanno. ( Rudaw)
The archbishop of Mosul on Saturday called on the government to hold all those responsible for the harrowing fire of Hamdaniya accountable for their actions, threatening a mass strike if this does not happen.

"Either everyone responsible [for the fire] will be held accountable, or we will go on strike. If we strike, it won't be only in our areas, it will be all over Iraq," Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Benedict Younan Hanno told Rudaw's Ranja Jamal.

The archbishop said everyone involved in causing the fire, including those who licensed the banquet hall, those who approved its safety standards, and those within the tourism, civil defense, and electricity directorates in the province, must be held accountable.

Archbishop Hanno said that the Iraqi officials who visited them following the fire "all talk well and beautifully" but that what the Christian community wants is for those words to be followed by actions, "We want decisions [to be taken] following those words, a decision that saves the life of this nation," he said.

"We have now reached a point where we all know where the problem is. Our problem is corruption. Day by day we get to know the consequences of where corruption takes us and what it does to us," said the archbishop, adding that what happened to Haytham Hall is one of the consequences of corruption.

The archbishop also lauded the efforts and the hard work shown by the doctors and health workers in Mosul, saying that while the country has the finest doctors, they suffer from lack of utilities and support in the hospitals, which end up not being up to standard. He specifically pointed to the discrepancy between the province's population of four million, and the total number of hospital beds not reaching 800.

Over a hundred people lost their lives when a deadly fire engulfed a wedding hall in Hamdaniya on Tuesday night after the roof's flammable plastic ceiling caught fire when fireworks were ignited from the floor.

An estimated 1,000 were at the wedding party. As soon as they had noticed fireballs dropping from the ceiling of the hall, they en masse rushed to evacuate from the only exit door - the back kitchen door - with frightened attendants unable to open the main door.

Rampant corruption plagues all levels of the Iraqi state, a phenomenon that the country's current government has pledged to eliminate. Official figures published last year estimated that well over 400 billion dollars have gone missing from state coffers since former dictator Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in 2003. According to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, Iraq ranks among the most corrupt nations, coming 157th out of 180 countries.

During a speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this month, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani said that fighting against endemic corruption was his government's foremost priority.

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