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4 Million Displaced Iraqis And Growing

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    Mother with cancer, kids struggle to survive as street sellers June 2007 (IRIN) Photo: Afif Sarhan/IRIN Mahmoud Rafid, 13, says he is afraid to go on selling
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2007
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      Mother with cancer, kids struggle to survive as street sellers
      June 2007 (IRIN)


      Photo: Afif Sarhan/IRIN
      Mahmoud Rafid, 13, says he is afraid to go on selling goods on the
      streets of Baghdad after being sexually harassed and abused
      BAGHDAD, Mahmoud Rafid, 13, says he is afraid to go on selling goods
      on the streets of Baghdad, after being sexually harassed and abused.

      He lost his father a year ago and his mother has cancer so Mahmoud,
      his two sisters, 14 and 11, and brother, 9, had to find ways of
      feeding themselves. After selling many of their possessions to raise
      money, they can now be seen at traffic lights selling chocolates,
      newspapers and pens.

      My mother is very sick and if we lose her our situation is going to be
      even worse. We were all forced to leave our school to help boost our
      household income but the situation is dangerous and sometimes I have
      the impression that one day I wont return home.

      My sisters are the ones who suffer most. There are many very bad men
      in Baghdad who want to do bad things to them. They stay near me when
      we are working and I always carry a knife with me to defend them in
      case someone wants to sexually abuse them. I have suffered that, and
      dont want this to happen to them too.

      I have to keep working to help my family despite being [sexually]
      abused. Our relatives have turned their back on us and my father didnt
      leave us enough money.

      My mother stays at home waiting for us, crying, desperate and afraid
      that something might happen to us on the streets. Her cancer is
      developing fast and if she dies we will have to rely on ourselves and
      maybe well have to sleep on the streets.

      I miss the time I was at school and if I had the opportunity to go
      back I would just grab it. I was a good student, with good marks and
      many friends. But now even my friends have abandoned us because we
      work the streets. Their families think we arent good company for them.

      Many times people come to us offering money and food in return for us
      selling drugs, but we never agree to do it. My brother tried drugs
      twice and got very sick. We couldnt do anything. Thank God, after my
      mother took good care of him he gave up this bad thing.

      I hope one day we can have a good and safe life again. I would like to
      see my brother at school again and eat a nice piece of meat. But until
      this happens, we will keep working, trying to afford some food for my
      mother in her last days.

      ==

      Iraqis `have a dream called electricity'
      By Ali al-Fadhily
      http://www.dawn.com/2007/06/20/int12.htm


      BAGHDAD: Simmering in the summer heat, Iraqis now have a dream called
      electricity.

      It is a part of the bigger dream of reconstruction that collapsed. On
      all measurable levels, the infrastructure is worse than under the
      former regime of Saddam Hussein, even when it was crippled by the
      harshest economic sanctions in modern history.

      Iraqis lack security, jobs, potable water, and these days when it
      really pinches, electricity.

      "Electricity is life," said 45-year-old Zahra Aziz, a schoolteacher
      and mother of four, using a hand-fan in an attempt to cool herself.
      "Modern life depends on power, and we do not have that here. Having no
      electricity means having no water, no light, no air-conditioning, and
      in other words, no life."

      Most people the news agency spoke to in Baghdad said they get one hour
      of electricity in 24 hours.

      "June is a very hot month, and this permanent electricity failure is
      just another way of giving Iraqis slow death," Umayma Salim, a doctor
      who quit her work at a hospital in Baghdad due to security threats,
      told the news group.

      "We are getting all kinds of diseases — sunstrokes among those work
      outdoors to provide their children food, and psychological effects on
      all people. The weak functioning of hospitals and other infrastructure
      facilities have brought all kinds of complications of health and life."

      "We are boiling here Sammy," a woman said to her husband on her mobile
      phone while talking to the news agency. "You enjoy the breeze and
      electricity in Jordan my dear, but do try to take us off this frying
      pan. We are sweating like Niagara falls over here."

      Temperatures in Iraq are usually above 40 degrees centigrade in June,
      and can jump to more than 50 degrees in July and August.

      "We cannot supply frozen and cooled food properly because of
      electricity failures," Jamal Rfai, a supermarket owner in Baghdad told
      this reporter. "We bring very limited quantities and if there is any
      curfew or trouble in the street, then it is all wasted because of the
      heat, and of course no one will compensate our loss."

      Workers at water service stations speak of incessant electricity cuts.
      "The main problem we are facing is electricity supply," a worker who
      gave his name as Ahmed told the news agency. "We have our standby
      generators, but they are meant to be used in emergency, not for so
      many hours a day as we do nowadays. Besides, the fuel supply is also
      not sufficient."

      Waiting time at petrol stations in Baghdad continues to average more
      than 24 hours. People sleep in their cars, or hire others to sit in
      their cars for them. And there is no guarantee there will be petrol at
      the end of the wait.

      Most factories have stopped production because of the security
      situation and the lack of electricity.

      "I moved my plastic bags factory to another area seeking better
      security, but now I cannot work because there is no electricity,"
      Ahmad Ali, a factory owner from Baghdad told the news agency. "We are
      wasting our time hoping for something that we will never have because
      this occupation intentionally kills life in this country."

      Similar complaints are coming from farmers. Many say production is
      down at least 80 per cent from what it was before the US-led occupation.

      "It is deliberate damage caused by the occupation," Salim
      Abdul-Sattar, a local politician from Baghdad told this reporter. "To
      cut electricity is to cut the main vein of life, and that is the main
      goal of the occupation."

      Abdul Sattar believes that the occupation authorities "could have
      provided electricity in a few months if they wanted to, but this
      problem is useful for what they call creative chaos".

      Most of Iraq faced near total electricity failure last week. Iraqi
      media outlets like al-Hurra and al-Iraqiyah which are known to be
      heavily influenced by the US government broadcast messages claiming
      that terrorists had attacked the main electricity stations, causing
      power outages.

      "We are now used to hearing such lies," a government engineer who
      works at one of the stations told the news agency.—Dawn/The IPS News
      Service.

      ===

      Four Million Displaced Iraqis And Growing

      Has Iraq Become the Largest Humanitarian Crisis on Planet?
      By ROBERT Y. PELTON
      http://www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/writer/7/Robert_Y_Pelton


      Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
      CALAIS, FRANCE: Migrants from Iraq and other countries spend
      months trying to stow away on trains and trucks heading for English ports.


      The <http://www.unhcr.org/iraq.html> UN reports that Iraqi refugees
      now total 4.2 million and the number is expected to increase. There
      are an estimated 2.2 Million Iraqis that have crossed the borders and
      1.9 million displaced inside Iraq. The rough population estimate of
      Iraq was 25 million. To compare there are only 2 to 2.5 million people
      displaced in the Darfur region of Sudan. An estimated 200,000 have
      been killed in Darfur, but estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq over
      the last five years have ranged from <http://www.iraqbodycount.org/>
      70,000 to <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1892888,00.html>
      600,000 to a million in the British medical journal The Lancet. It is
      time to focus on this disaster and more importantly the concept of
      triage as aid organizations publicize the fact that they are unable to
      handle this problem. Iraq may have slipped from needing reconstruction
      to emergency surgery.
      <http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/LRON-737HCD?OpenDocument>

      According to the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) there are 8
      million people in immediate need of assistance . The NCCI's figure are
      more disturbing; 4 million displaced and 4 million in danger of not
      having basic sustenance. In
      http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0107-03.htm>
      January, 2003 the UN accurately predicted the surge in Iraqis that
      would require aid and continues to issue disturbing estimates that are
      likely to become true as well (see below)

      <http://www.alternet.org/audits/52544/> There are an estimated 25
      million people from 40 countries considered as Internally Displaced
      People, and clearly Iraq has moved to the top of this list. There are
      also similarities between Darfur and Iraq. Both are emergencies driven
      by a methodical ethnic cleansing campaign sanctioned or ignored by the
      legal government. But unlike Darfur where the islamic government
      refuses to allow western intervention, Iraq is under an active program
      of intervention, security operations and military campaigning to
      reduce violence but results seem to indicate that this effort is
      having the opposite effect by increasing the flow or Iraqis out of
      their own country. Journalists may remember the well organized program
      to handle expected refugees during the opening weeks of the war and
      how Iraqis stayed put. Five years later, things have changed. Instead
      of well stocked and provisioned camps with neat rows of tents awaiting
      refugees they are being forced to build shanty towns and scavenge for
      food.

      Currently NGOs and aid organizations in Iraq are subject to
      <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16247664/> kidnapping,
      <http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L2970592.htm> killing,
      <http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/845/re81.htm> threats as well as the
      same basic economic and manpower shortages that hamper relief in other
      regions of the world.

      <javascript:newwindow('http://www.iraqslogger.com/fullimage.php?img=74154116
      .jpg','img',625,475)> Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraqi Red Crescent Society
      workers deliver supplies to Iraqi refugees from the violence-ridden
      Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.

      ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images

      Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraqi Red Crescent Society workers deliver supplies to
      Iraqi refugees from the violence-ridden Diyala province, northeast of
      Baghdad.

      List of IDP's WorldWide <http://www.internal-displacement.org/> here

      OFFICIAL UNHCR PRESS RELEASE:

      Iraq: Situation continues to worsen, local governorates overwhelmed

      This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer
      Pagonis - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press
      briefing, on 5 June 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

      The situation in Iraq continues to worsen, with more than 2 million
      Iraqis now believed to be displaced inside Iraq and another 2.2
      million sheltering in neighbouring states. Calls for increased
      international support for governments in the region have so far
      brought few results, and access to social services for Iraqis remains
      limited. Most of the burden is being carried by Jordan and Syria.

      Inside Iraq, some 85 percent of the displaced are in the central and
      southern regions. Most of those displaced are from Baghdad and
      surrounding districts. Since February last year, an estimated 820,000
      people have been displaced, including 15,000 Palestinians who have
      nowhere to go.

      Individual governorates inside Iraq are becoming overwhelmed by the
      needs of the displaced. At least 10 out of the 18 governorates have
      closed their borders or are restricting access to new arrivals. UNHCR
      is receiving disturbing reports of regional authorities refusing to
      register new arrivals, including single women, and denying access to
      government services.

      Many displaced have been evicted from public buildings. Combined with
      the general lack of resources, this has led to a growing number of
      impoverished shanty towns. The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI)
      and WFP indicate that at least 47 percent of the displaced have no
      access to official food distribution channels.

      The number of Iraqis fleeing to neighbouring countries remains high.
      According to government figures, some 1.4 million Iraqis are now
      displaced in Syria, up to 750,000 in Jordan, 80,000 in Egypt and some
      200,000 in the Gulf region. Syria alone receives a minimum of 30,000
      Iraqis a month.

      Recognition rates of Iraqis in various countries outside the region,
      particularly in Europe, remain low. UNHCR repeats its call for all
      borders to remain open to those in need of protection.

      UNHCR is rapidly expanding its operations and presence in the region,
      but the magnitude of the crisis is staggering. We now have 300 staff
      working full time on Iraqi displacement. They are based in Syria,
      Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Geneva and in Iraq itself. Since the
      beginning of the year, our offices in surrounding countries have
      registered more than 130,000 Iraqi refugees. By the end of May, UNHCR
      had interviewed some 7,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis and sent
      their dossiers to potential resettlement countries for their further
      assessment and action. We urge these countries to make rapid decisions
      and facilitate the departure of those most in need.

      Resettlement, however, remains an option for only a few of the most
      vulnerable Iraqis. Our goal is to provide up to 20,000 Iraqi
      resettlement cases to governments this year.

      Analysis of detailed statistics show that in Syria alone, about 47,000
      of the 88,447 refugees registered since the beginning of this year are
      in need of special assistance. About a quarter of them require legal
      or protection assistance, including many victims of torture. Nearly 19
      percent have serious medical conditions. UNHCR has opened two
      community outreach centres in Damascus and will shortly open two more.
      Food and medical aid is being provided to the most vulnerable. We are
      also working with an increasing number of local and international
      partners who are helping with health, education, counselling and
      vocational training.

      Two international UNHCR staff are working in Erbil and another is
      scheduled to go to Baghdad when the security situation permits. These
      international staff are reinforcing more than 20 local UNHCR staff in
      seven locations in Iraq. Our goal is to provide basic assistance and
      shelter to some 300,000 uprooted Iraqis inside the country by the end
      of this year. This, however, is just a fraction of the overall needs.
      UNHCR legal aid centres in 18 governorates have provided advice to
      over 10,700 displaced Iraqis. By the end of 2007 we also plan to
      provide essential medical/health, food and individual assistance to
      50,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis in neighbouring countries.

      ===

      Iraqi church leaders: Iraqi gov't failing nation's Christians
      By Simon Caldwell
      June 22, 2007
      Catholic News Service
      www.catholicnews. com
      http://www.christiansofiraq.com/lettertoblairjun257.html


      LONDON (CNS) - Five London-based Iraqi church leaders have denounced
      the "reprehensible failure" of the Iraqi government to protect
      Christians from persecution.

      "Iraqi Christians have been targeted by a wave of attacks on their
      persons, churches, monasteries, homes and businesses," said a letter
      sent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II. The
      letter said Iraqi Christians expected their government to ensure their
      "safety, security and justice."

      It said that since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there had
      been "thousands of attacks" on the country's Christian minority. It
      also said Christians in Baghdad were being made to choose between
      converting to Islam, paying high taxes or leaving their homes.

      "Terrors are being incited by a number of imams in the mosques and
      other fanatics against the 'Christian infidels,'" the letter said.

      "The developments that follow will be even more serious," it said. "We
      ask the United Nations, all peace-loving governments, human rights
      organizations and individuals to help the Christians of Iraq.

      "The reprehensible failure of Iraq to guarantee religious freedom,
      justice and accountability toward Christians simply amounts to an
      invitation to continue the same in the future," it added.

      The letter was signed by Syrian Orthodox Bishop Toma Dawod, Father
      Stephen Turkhan of the Assyrian Church of the East, Father Habib Jajou
      al-Noufaly of the Chaldean Catholic Mission, the Rev. Khoshaba Georges
      of the Ancient Church of the East and Father Nizar Semaan of the
      Syrian Catholic Mission. It was dated June 6 but was made public June
      20 by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted
      Christians around the world.

      Father Jajou told the charity that Christians were fleeing Iraq at the
      rate of 50,000 a month.

      "At this rate, there will be no Christians at all in Baghdad, Mosul or
      Basra a decade from now," said the priest. "The situation is very,
      very miserable."

      Figures from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees revealed last
      year that about 44 percent of Iraqi refugees are Christian, although
      Christians account for just 4 percent of the total population of Iraq.

      ===

      Report to the House of Lords Commission on Iraq:
      Iraq's Lost Generation: Impact & Implications
      Dr Ismail Jalili
      National Association of British Arabs
      http://www.naba.org.uk/content/articles/HR/IraqHRM/Jalili_Reprt2007_Iraq_LostGeneration.pdf


      "Abstract

      Problems facing the intelligentsia of Iraq have been neglected in the
      scale of that country's ongoing tragedy. Since 2003, the new
      phenomenon of targeted and systematic assassinations, kidnappings and
      threats to professionals and academics has surfaced.
      These are escalating.

      Over 830 assassinations have been documented, victims killed along
      with their families. Numbers includes:

      380 university academics and doctors, 210 lawyers and judges,
      and 243 journalists/media workers but not other experts, school
      teachers or students; neither professionals displaced internally and
      externally.

      All aspects of life are affected.
      The victims are often highly qualified, PhD or equivalent.
      Assassinations are not specific to sect or gender but victims are
      predominantly Arab.

      Hundreds of legal workers have left Iraq in addition to those already
      killed and injured, thereby denying thousands of Iraqis their
      legal rights.

      Working lawyers numbers have decreased by at least 40%
      in the past year alone and hundreds of cases shelved.

      Neither has sports escaped; the President and 36 member National Iraqi
      Olympic Committee were kidnapped in July 2006; the
      majority are thought to be dead. These were the only democratically
      elected Olympic representatives in the region.
      The reported incidents are only the tip of an iceberg; many cases go
      unreported. This is in addition to the huge exodus to
      neighbouring countries and, for the lucky few, to Europe.

      Unless urgent action is taken to redress this situation, it will be
      too late to save Iraq's intelligentsia for the immediate and
      foreseeable future; a disastrous situation for Iraq."

      *********************************************************************

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