4 Million Displaced Iraqis And Growing
- 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
BAGHDAD: Simmering in the summer heat, Iraqis now have a dream called
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
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
"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
Four Million Displaced Iraqis And Growing
Has Iraq Become the Largest Humanitarian Crisis on Planet?
By 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.
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
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
Currently NGOs and aid organizations in Iraq are subject to
<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.
.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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
Hundreds of legal workers have left Iraq in addition to those already
killed and injured, thereby denying thousands of Iraqis their
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."
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
To subscribe to this group, send an email to:
NEWS ARCHIVE IS OPEN TO PUBLIC VIEW
Need some good karma? Appreciate the service?
Please consider donating to WVNS today.
Email ummyakoub@... for instructions.
To leave this list, send an email to: