23/04/2012 17:38 BAGHDAD, April 23 (AKnews) - The Iraqi Planning Ministry said today that it launched a survey to track poverty in Iraq during the first three months of 2012.

Ministry spokesman Abdul Zahra al-Hindawi said the ministry will review Iraq's progress in reducing the poverty rate, developing economic projects and addressing unemployment as part of efforts to find out the exact percentage of poverty in the country.

Iraq plans to reduce the poverty rate to less than 16 percent during the next two years, said Hindawi. The ministry has a plan to combat unemployment and address the economic problems facing the country.

The United Nations Mission in Iraq announced last November that the poverty rate in Iraq was 23 percent.

The US-Iraqi Organization for Human Rights reported last year that 7 million Iraqis lived below the poverty line, with annual income not exceeding 37,000 IQD ($30).

The Iraqi government said the rate of unemployment in the country did not exceed 15 percent, while reports by local and international organizations revealed that the level is closer to 30 percent.

Government surveys indicated that the unemployment rate for males in Iraq reached 30.2 percent versus 16 percent for women.

By Jaafar al-Wannan