Humanitarian crisis caused by the War and Occupation of Iraq

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PDF Dossier: Iraq 2007, a humanitarian disaster (part 1).  January - 11 June 2007.

PDF Dossier: Iraq 2007, a humanitarian disaster (part 2).  June - 04 November 2007.

Click here to read previous articles about the humanitarian crisis (2006-2005-2004-2003-2002)


A Forgotten Humanitarian Disaster (March 25, 2009)
This article highlights the findings of a 2008 International Red Cross report, which shows that the US-UK invasion of Iraq caused 1.2 million deaths, including, 2,000 doctors, created 4.7 million refugees and resulted in the assassination or imprisonment of 5,500 academics and intellectuals. Despite the devastation of the ongoing six year occupation, the media continues to neglect the Iraq war and chooses to report on issues such as Darfur and Afghanistan instead. (al Jazeera)


Iraq's Shocking Human Toll: About 1 Million Killed, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans (February 2, 2009)
This Alertnet article puts in perspective the Bush Administration's claims that Iraq was a US victory. The UN estimates that 4.5 million Iraqis are displaced, less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water and more than 40 percent of children in Basra cannot attend school. The US-led invasion has left 5 million orphans and according to household surveys the number of violent deaths, directly attributable to warfare, is likely to amount to 1.3 million.



Millions of Iraqis at risk from contaminated water, says Red Cross - 29 Oct 2008 (ICRC)

Improved security has failed to prevent Iraq becoming the scene of one of the world's most critical humanitarian disasters with water supplies and sewage systems putting millions at risk of disease, the Red Cross said today. The statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross said the situation has not improved significantly since March this year when the organisation published its report, Iraq: No Let-up in The Humanitarian Crisis. The report found that the humanitarian situation in Iraq following the US invasion was the worst in the world. Today's findings state that water supplies in the war-torn country have continued to deteriorate with even the most basic infrastructure not functioning...


In Iraq, The Doctors Are Out - 18 Oct 2008

...The medical profession in particular has been hollowed out. Iraq's health-care system used to be the envy of the Arab world. But after the U.S. invasion, doctors became targets for ransom kidnappings and assassination. Upwards of 120 physicians were killed. Some were gunned down in their own clinics. Things got worse than ever after 2005, when loyalists of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gained control of the Health Ministry. Hospitals turned into Shiite militia bases where Sunnis could be killed on sight. The Sadrists are in retreat now, but the doctors are still missing. The current health minister, Salih Hasnawi, estimates that roughly half the country's doctors have fled, from a prewar total of as many as 30,000 or more... Newsweek


Lots of rivers, not enough water - 07 Sept 2008
...The latest grim update comes from Hillah, the capital of Babil province south of Baghdad, where health officials have begun using loudspeakers to urge people not to eat ice cream or juice from vendors because it might be made with dirty water. Dr. Ahmed Ajrash, the deputy director of Babil's health directorate, said today that two people had died of confirmed cases of cholera in Babil. There are 10 suspicious cases, not yet confirmed as the water-borne disease. In Hashimiya, about 18 miles south of Hillah, medical officials say they have seen 250 cases of severe watery diarrhea, some of which may turn out to be cholera. Dozens more suspected cholera cases have turned up in other parts of the country. The problem raises the question: How can a country with two major rivers -- the Tigris and the Euphrates -- not have sufficient clean water for its people? The problem stems from Iraq's aging water treatment facilities, which were damaged or destroyed during the war and have yet to be replaced or repaired...Los Angeles Times.


Iraqi Refugees: No Place to Call Home Jessica Malter 14 July 2008.

...It was a draining morning hearing story after story of despair. All the Iraqis I spoke to that morning expressed a similar sentiment: while they feel safe from violence in Jordan they do not feel free. Their lives today are nothing they would have ever imagined for themselves. Most of them are in dire financial straits. Not allowed to work and out of savings, they are living on whatever they can earn doing odd jobs, help from family members and what assistance is available to them. What I found most shocking were the horrendous living conditions. Few of the places I saw were fit to be called "home", though glimmers of lives past were discernable if you looked closely enough. In the center of Amman, through an alley and up a treacherous flight of decaying stone steps, we found Fala. Fala is married with two young children, ages five and two. His family fled Iraq two years ago when they returned home one day to find a note on their door from a local militia, saying, "Leave now!" He didn’t want to take a chance. Now they live in a hovel with no running water or electricity. They eat only what they can prepare on a single gas burner...


Iraqi refugees neglected by international community - 25 June 2008

Denmark is preparing to deport four Iraqi men convicted of criminal offenses to Iraq, where they will face torture, ill-treatment or death at the hands of any one of the dangerous armed groups roaming the country. All four men had become legal residents of Denmark. Danish authorities are also attempting to reach an agreement with Iraqi officials to deport another 364 rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers. With 4.7 million people displaced in the years since the invasion of Iraq, the situation in Denmark highlights the international community's negligent response to the plight of these refugees...


IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees: Statement of the Commissioners - International Rescue Committee 24 June 2008.

A major humanitarian crisis, largely hidden and ignored, is engulfing Syria and Jordan. Iraqis of different religions, ethnicities, and backgrounds have been fleeing death, kidnapping, and protracted violence. Because they are not huddled in camps these refugees do not get the attention and help the deserve from the U.S. and the international community. Many have been severely traumatized and lead deperate lives in Damascus and Amman. Compounding the problem, some reporting has perpetuated myths that they are wealthy or more recently that the crisis is abating and they are beginning to return to their homes in Iraq. Neither the U.S. nor the rest of the world is paying sufficient heed: external help provided by regional countries and major international donors has been half-hearted and woefully insufficient...


IRAQ: Home to Too Many Widows 18 June 2008
Just about everyone in Iraq is a loser as a result of the occupation, but none more than women. One of the more obvious signs of that is the very large number of widows. The Asharq al-Awsat Arab media channel estimated in late 2007 there were 2.3 million widows in Iraq. These include widows from the 1980-1988 war with Iran in which half a million men were killed, the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, and from 'natural' causes. The news outlet cited the Iraqiyat (Iraqi women) group as a source for their figure. For a widow, all things are the same, dark. "Being a widow means being dead in Iraq today," a professor from Diyala University, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "This is because of the tremendous responsibilities cast upon her."...


Assessment on Returns to Iraq Amongst the Iraqi Refugee Population in Syria - Report UNHCR, April 2008 - [PDF]


“Acute shortages” in clash-hit Baghdad suburbs 10 April 2008 (IRIN)

A humanitarian crisis is looming in two sprawling Shia suburbs in Baghdad, as clashes continue between government forces (backed by US soldiers) and Shia militants, members of parliament and residents said on 10 April.


Doctors still unable to work normally in Baghdad suburb 7 April 2008 (IRIN) 

Despite the Iraqi premier’s order to relax security measures in two Baghdad suburbs which have seen fierce clashes since 25 March, doctors and medical staff in one of these suburbs are still unable to operate normally, according to the head of a local hospital.


Top UN official highlights “gravity” of humanitarian situation 04 April 2008 (IRIN)

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes has told a press conference in Amman: "I want to highlight the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Iraq."


New report highlights growing number of IDPs 03 April 2008 (IRIN)

A new international report says that on 20 March there were some 2,778,305 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq. Hitherto the figure of 2.2 million IDPs in Iraq had been widely publicised.


Hospitals in Baghdad, Basra lack supplies - ICRC 01 April 2008 (IRIN),

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on 31 March it was concerned about the lack of medical supplies in hospitals in Baghdad and Basra after fighting between government forces and a Shia militia flared up on 25 March.


Basra residents hit by surging food, fuel prices 31 March 2008 (IRIN)

Residents of Iraq’s second-largest city of Basra are breathing a sigh of relief after Shia radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his militia to end the clashes with government forces which erupted on 25 March.


Humanitarian situation deteriorates in Basra 27 March 2008 (IRIN),

The humanitarian situation and aid operations continued to deteriorate in Basra as heavy fighting between government forces and militiamen of the Mahdi Army led by radical Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr entered its third day, Salih Hmoud, head of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society’s office in Basra, told IRIN.


Five Years Later, a Hidden Crisis: Report of the IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees (March 2008)
This report by International Rescue Committee (IRC) details the dire humanitarian crisis within Iraq and the very large number of refugees residing in neighboring countries. According to the report, Syria has one million Iraqi refugees and Jordan has over 750,000. IRC calls upon the international community, especially the US, to offer sufficient funding to these host countries and to ease the crisis of refugees by increasing resettlement, including within the US. IRC suggests the US government increase its proposed number of Iraqi admissions from 12,000 to 30,000 per year over the next four years.


Palestinian refugees renew appeal for protection 19 March 2008 (IRIN)

Palestinian refugees in Iraq on 19 March again appealed for protection; they said they were still living as “fugitives” and demanded immediate help for their compatriots stranded on the Iraq-Syria border.


Iraq: Five Years and Counting (March 18, 2008)
As the war in Iraq enters into its sixth year, this Inter Press Service article describes the realities of life in Baghdad and disputes the claims by the Bush administration that the 2003 invasion has been a “successful endeavor.” The average Iraqi home has less than five hours of electricity a day, 70 percent of the population does not have access to safe drinking water and according to Oxfam four million Iraqis need emergency assistance. Over 4,000 US soldiers have died and thousands more are chronically injured. Despite all this chaos, the US continues to build an embassy in Baghdad “the size of the Vatican,” suggesting the US will remain for some time to come.


Iraq: no let-up in the humanitarian crisis, 17 March 2008 (ICRC) - Report - full text in PDF format

Because of the conflict, millions of Iraqis have insufficient access to clean water, sanitation and health care. The current crisis is exacerbated by the lasting effects of previous armed conflicts and years of sanctions. Iraqis continue to be killed or injured on a daily basis in fighting and attacks. Civilians are often deliberately targeted, in complete disregard for the rules of international humanitarian law. Health care, water and sanitation services and electricity supplies remain largely inadequate. Hospitals lack qualified staff and basic drugs, and therefore struggle to provide suitable care for the injured. Many health-care facilities have not been properly maintained, and the care they provide is often too expensive for ordinary Iraqis. The water supply has continued to deteriorate over the past year. Millions of people have been forced to rely on insufficient supplies of poor-quality water as water and sewage systems suffer from a lack of maintenance and a shortage of engineers.


Baghdad residents’ health at risk for lack of water, sewage systems 16 March 2008 (IRIN)

Lack of security, corruption, neglect and insurgent attacks have left Iraq's public services in tatters. Limited electricity, a shortage of safe drinking water and rundown sanitation and sewage systems are causing diseases and frustration.


Compounds for IDPs should not be a permanent solution, officials warn 16 March 2008 (IRIN)

As Iraq’s displacement problem continues to grow, representatives of local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on 15 March warned that government plans to build residential compounds for internally displaced persons (IDPs) should neither be sectarian nor permanent.


Protests mount over insecurity in Basra 12 March 2008 (IRIN)

Iraq’s second largest city of Basra, about 600km south of Baghdad, is still under the sway of militants and criminal groups, and security forces are absent, residents and local officials told IRIN on 11 March.


Minister leads call to end violence against women 10 March 2008 (IRIN)

Iraqi women on 8 March, International Woman's Day, called for an end to violence against women nationwide and for equal status with men, especially in top jobs, including ministries and embassies.


Armed Humanitarianism (March 5, 2008)
This ISN Security Watch article addresses the relationship between private security companies (PSCs) and humanitarian organizations working in Iraq. This growing affiliation results from three factors: “the dangers facing humanitarian aid workers, the discourse on the use and morality of armed private security services and finally, the tendency of government agencies to rely upon NGOs and private contractors to implement their programs." Despite this alliance, many NGOs oppose the use of PSCs to further humanitarian aid because of the controversy surrounding private security firms and their lack of accountability.


Livelihoods at risk as level of Lake Razaza falls 05 March 2008 (IRIN)

Lake Razaza (also spelled Razzaza), the second largest freshwater lake in Iraq and once an important source of fish as well as a cherished public amenity, is now depleted with high salinity levels, officials said on 3 March.


Iraq's health sector under pressure 26 February 2008 (IRIN)

With scores of doctors killed over the past few years, an exodus of medical personnel, poor medical infrastructure and shortages of medicines, Iraq's health sector is under great pressure, a senior Health Ministry official said on 26 February.


Minister wants much more funding for power sector 21 February 2008 (IRIN)

Iraq needs at least US$4 billion in 2008 to allow swifter rehabilitation of its battered power plants nationwide, Electricity Minister Karim Wahid said on 19 February.


Leishmaniasis continues to spread in southern province 18 February 2008 (IRIN)

Leishmaniasis continues to spread in Iraq’s southern province of Qadissiyah, about 130km south of Baghdad, with at least 275 cases so far, a local official said.


Iraqi Medical System Wrecked by War 18 February 2008.
LORI HINNANT ...According to figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry released earlier this year, 618 medical employees, including 132 doctors, as well as medics and other health care workers, have been killed nationwide since 2003, among the professionals from many fields caught up in Iraq's sectarian violence. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of other medical personnel are believed to have fled to Iraq's northern semiautonomous Kurdistan region and neighboring countries. Even with the security gains of the past several months across Iraq, it is still dangerous for doctors and their families if they dare step out of heavily guarded hospital compounds. Drugs supplies are so low that Iraqis hospitalized for illnesses as serious as cancer are asked to track down their own medicine.


Government plans massive mine clearance operation 04 February 2008 (IRIN)

Iraq is planning a huge mine clearance operation in a bid to rid itself of some 25 million unexploded mines in some 4,000 minefields, Environment Minister Narmin Othman said on 3 February.


More relief aid needed in Mosul after blast 28 January 2008 (IRIN)

Essential relief items are needed to continue relief operations, and maintain an emergency stock, for affected families in the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said on 28 January.


Defence ministry asks IDPs to evacuate former military base 27 January 2008 (IRIN)

The Iraqi Ministry of Defence has given about 300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) one week to evacuate a former military compound in Babil Province, about 100km south of the capital, Baghdad, officials said on 25 January.


Desperate plight facing millions of Iraqi refugees (WSWS 25 Jan 2008)

Since March 2003, at least 4.2 million Iraqis have been displaced—2.2 million fled their homes but remained in Iraq and 2 million left the country altogether. Between 1.4 and 1.7 million are in neighbouring Syria, while Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey all have a significant number of Iraqi refugees. The precarious situation confronting Iraqi refugees is conveyed by an Ipsos survey published in November and entitled "Iraqi Refugees in Syria". According to the survey, 37 percent of the 754 individuals interviewed listed savings as their primary source of income, while 24 percent relied on remittances, 12 percent on pensions and only 24 percent on a salary. Some 33 percent expected their money to run out in less than three months and another 53 percent did not know how long their money would last.


Under Curfew, This Is No Life (January 24, 2008)
Curfews in Iraq are imposed every day under the US occupation, while they occurred only twice under the rule of Saddam Hussein: “for the census in the 1970s and 1980s.” Curfews restrict the flow of people, public goods and services, resulting in tolls on the economic, psychological, educational and medical aspects of life in Iraq. If Iraqi citizens have a medical emergency, they must stay indoors and young children remain unable to go to school. (Inter Press Service)


Trauma survey in Syria highlights suffering of Iraqi refugee (UNHCR 22 Jan 2008)

Conducting a survey on refugees registered in Syria during the period between October 31 and November 25, 2007, the UNHCR affirmed that they had been subjected to several forms of physical assault and torture like beating, electric shocks, burning and rape, adding most of these assaults were perpetrated by armed militias and groups. The report called for enhancing protection among all communities in Iraq to end torture and draw up programs for improving the mental health of homeless Iraqi refugees. More News stories on the UNHCR website: click here.


Discontent Surges in Iraq (January 19, 2008)
According to this Associated Press article, Iraqi citizens blame the government for the lack of basic necessities such as water, electricity and kerosene, with the average Iraqi earning only half of the approximate monthly cost of kerosene. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s most important supporting political party and the largest Shiite bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, criticized the government’s role in the situation and called for quick action on behalf of the citizens.


Population hit by acute power outage, shortage of petroleum products 20 January 2008 (IRIN)

 Iraqis are once again facing days of power outages and queues hundreds of metres in length at petrol stations in parts of the capital, Baghdad, as well as in some of the country’s provinces.


Iraq healthcare in disarray, report says ( 16 Jan 2008)

Iraq's healthcare is in disarray with doctors and nurses fleeing abroad and child death rates soaring, according to a report on Wednesday. Up to 75 percent of Iraq's doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated, the report by health organisation Medact said. "The health system is in disarray, not only because of the underlying security, but owing to the lack of an institutional framework, huge staff shortages, intermittent electricity, unsafe water supply and frequent violations of medical neutrality," the report, "Rehabilitation Under Fire" said.

Authorities destroy Kerbala farms, displacing peasants, 13 January 2008 (IRIN)

 Local authorities in Karbala, a southern province of Iraq about 120km south of the capital, Baghdad, have destroyed thousands of hectares of agricultural land, putting dozens of peasant families at risk of being displaced, according to residents.


WFP food aid for Iraqi IDPs, refugees in Syria, 8 January 2008 (IRIN)

Iraqi officials and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have welcomed the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) emergency operation announced on 3 January to provide food aid to displaced Iraqi families.


IRAQ-SYRIA: Starving to survive: Iraqi refugees resort to desperate measures

02 January 2008 (IRIN), Iraqi Fatima Ahmaji earns money to feed her family in Damascus by starving herself. Living with her two children in a bare room in Sayeda Zeinab, the Iraqi-majority suburb of Damascus, Fatima does not eat from dawn until dusk on behalf of people who have missed days of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.


Islamic extremists target women in Basra, 02 January 2008 (IRIN)

One hundred and thirty-three women were killed last year in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, either by religious vigilantes or as a result of so-called “honour” killings, a report said on 31 December.




Rehabilitation under fire: Health care in Iraq 2003-2007 (Medact 31 Dec 2007)

The health-supporting infrastructure, already in a fragile state following over 20 years of conflict and sanctions, was severely damaged by the invasion and subsequent looting. Despite some rehabilitation efforts, the provision of health care has become increasingly difficult since 2003. Doctors and nurses have emigrated en masse, exacerbating existing staff shortages. The health system is in disarray owing to the lack of an institutional framework, intermittent electricity, unsafe water supply, and frequent violations of medical neutrality.  Full_Report (pdf  format - 463,8 Kbytes)

Women MPs, activists call for more support for widows, divorced women, 17 December 2007 (IRIN)

Iraqi women parliamentarians and activists are pressing for a new law to help the increasing number of widows and divorced women in their war-torn country.


Government introduces entry visas for Iraqis, 13 December 2007 (IRIN)

In a bid to control the flow of migrants from Iraq, Jordan is now demanding that Iraqis wishing to enter the kingdom first secure entry visas, the official Jordanian news agency Petra said on 11 December.


Parliament finds spare cash for IDPs,  12 December 2007 (IRIN)

The Iraqi parliament decided on 6 December to allocate 500 million Iraqi dinars (about US$410,000) to help displaced families nationwide. The money is unused attendance allowances for members of parliament (MPs), explained Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani.


Call for release of female detainees,  11 December 2007 (IRIN)

Iraq’s parliamentary committee for women’s and children’s affairs has demanded the immediate release of female detainees in Iraqi and US-run prisons.


Returning to destroyed, looted or occupied homes,  09 December 2007 (IRIN)

In recent weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in Syria have been coming back to Baghdad after a sharp decline in violence in the Iraqi capital. Many of the returnees have been shocked to find their homes destroyed, looted or occupied.


IRAQ-JORDAN: Few Iraqis returning home,  09 December 2007 (IRIN)

Due to the fragile security situation in Iraq, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is not encouraging Iraqis in Jordan to return to their homeland, but it is ready to help those who are determined to do so, according to Imran Riza, UNHCR representative in Jordan.


“Honour killings” persist in Kurdish north,  06 December 2007 (IRIN)

At least 27 Iraqi Kurdish women have been murdered for having illicit affairs in so-called “honour killings” in Iraq’s northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan over the past four months, an official from the regional government said on 4 December.


Government to cut items from its free food handouts

04 December 2007 (IRIN), From the beginning of 2008 the quantity of national food rations delivered freely to all Iraqi families will be further reduced - from 10 to five items, due to lack of government financial support, Trade Minister Abid Falah al-Soodani said on 3 December.


More aid needed for the displaced in Anbar Province, 03 December 2007 (IRIN)

Displaced families in Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, lack essential supplies, including tents, food parcels and medical care, local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say.


IRAQ-JORDAN: New chance of education for Iraqi asylum seekers, 29 November 2007 (IRIN)

Thousands of Iraqi asylum-seekers who were denied education as a result of the turmoil in their own country will now have a chance to finish their studies: Jordan's government has decided to launch new education projects for asylum seekers, according to officials and activists.


IRAQ-JORDAN: Iraq to give US$8 million to Jordan for hosting refugees, 28 November 2007 (IRIN)

The Iraqi government will give Jordan US$8 million to help host the estimated 500,000 Iraqi refugees now living in the country.


IRAQ-SYRIA: Lack of money, visa problems prompting Iraqi refugees to return home , 22 November 2007 (IRIN)

Lack of funds and the Syrian government’s refusal to renew their visas, more than the perception of improved security in Iraq, are prompting some Iraqi refugees in Syria to return to Iraq, according to personal refugee accounts and figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).


Extremists fuel anti-women violence in Basra,  20 November 2007 (IRIN)

Anti-women violence in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, about 600 km south of the capital, Baghdad, has increased markedly in recent months and has forced women to stay indoors, police and local NGOs have said.


Diyala desperately needs doctors ,18 November 2007

A shortage of doctors in Diyalah, a volatile province in eastern-central Iraq, has led to nurses having to take on many tasks and procedures for which they are not qualified, according to Diyalah’s health department.


Refugees forced home as funds dry up (12 Nov 2007)

 (IRIN), A growing wave of Iraqis are leaving Syria - not because they are confident of Iraq’s future but because they have run out of money. Others are returning because the Syrian authorities have made it more difficult for them to stay as most Iraqis cannot work legally in Syria and have been surviving on savings or handouts from relatives.


Aid agencies struggle to support over two million displaced Iraqis (11 Nov 2007)

UNHCR estimates that more than more than 4.4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes. Many fled before the US-led war on Iraq began in 2003; and as many have fled since sectarian violence escalated following an attack in February 2006. The UN agency says that some 2.2 million Iraqis are internally displaced, while more than 2.2 million have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria (about 1.2 million) and Jordan (up to 750,000).


Millions Trapped in Their Own Country  (05 Nov 2007)

At least five million Iraqis have fled their homes due to the violence under the U.S.-led occupation, but half of them are unable to leave the country, according to well-informed estimates. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are more than 4.4 million displaced Iraqis, an estimate that many workers among refugees find conservative.  The UNHCR announced last week that at present 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. Most of them have received direct threats from death squads or militias.


Humanitarian tsunami sweeping across Iraq (04 Nov 2007)

The United States cannot solve the crisis in Iraq and beyond unless it takes responsibility for the unprecedented humanitarian crisis it has created in Iraq. Imagine 1.5 million Canadians being killed and another 6.5 million either forced to flee Canada or displaced internally. That's about what has happened to the Iraqis. Up to 1.2 million of them, out of a population of 21 million, may have been killed since 2003. And one in five Iraqis has been displaced. Two million, maybe more, have fled to neighbouring nations, and another 2.2 million have been displaced internally. Of the latter, the world knows the least, and for a reason.


Iraqi Red Crescent Report: 65% of Displaced in Iraq Children (04 Nov 2007)

In September the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said there were just over a million Iraqis displaced since February 2006. Combined with the 1.2 million people already displaced before the Samarra incident, the IOM says a total of 2.25 million Iraqis are internally displaced. This total is similar to the estimate of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS). In its latest report, released in September, the IRCS said there were 282,672 displaced families nationwide (some two million individuals) - a 272 percent increase on its 2006 figures.

The number of internally displaced Iraqis (IDPs) increased 16% to nearly 2,3 million from August to September, according to an Iraqi Red Crescent report showing children 11 and under comprise a record high 65% of the displaced.

-- The IDP count from August to September increased by 368.479 to 2.299.425.
-- 63,6% of all IDPs are in the Baghdad governorate.
-- For the first time, children comprise the vast majority of Iraqi IDP's.
-- In Baghdad governorate, 75,7% of IDPs are children.
-- The total IDP count in Iraq has climbed more than 500% this year.


Iraq Dam ‘At Risk of Collapse’ (October 30, 2007)
Mismanagement and alleged fraud relating to a US$27 million reconstruction project of Iraq’s largest dam has resulted in no progress in repairing the structure. A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction finds that “fundamental flaws” including seepage and erosion render the Mosul dam “the most dangerous dam in the world.” Some commentators predict more than 500,000 people are at risk, as the collapse of the dam may cause a flood wave 20 meters deep in Mosul and flooding along the Tigris River to Baghdad. (BBC)


Number of girls attending school dropping, say analysts (29 Oct 2007)

According to the ministry, school attendance is expected to fall by another 15 percent this term for boys and 25 percent for girls. Mayada Marouf, a spokeswoman for the local NGO Keeping Children Alive (KCA), told IRIN that girls are becoming disadvantaged compared with boys in schools and this might affect the country’s future.


Child prisoners abused and tortured, say activists (25 October 2007)

Iraqi NGOs have raised concerns about the condition of children in local prisons, saying they are abused and tortured during interrogation.
full report


Mental problems and stress disorders increase (25 October 2007)

Salah Hashimy, 14, has lost his parents, sisters and many friends since the US-led invasion in 2003; finally there was no one to look after him. He lacks education, love and support, a combination that, according to doctors, caused his mental health problems.
full report


Humanitarian concerns growing near Turkish border (23 October 2007)

Dozens of families have been leaving villages near the Iraq-Turkey border since 21 October, joining the hundreds who have already fled the area as tension rises between Turkish-Kurdish rebels and the Turkish army, local officials say.
full report


Hundreds forced to scavenge for food in garbage bins (17 October 2007)

Barira Mihran, a 36-year-old mother of three, scavenges every day in other people’s dustbins in Baghdad for leftovers on which to feed her children. Widowed and displaced by sectarian violence, the unemployed mother said she had no other way of providing for her children


Iraqi Arabs seek refuge in Kurdish north (15 October 2007)

According to figures compiled by local officials in the three provinces that make up Iraqi Kurdistan, at least 12,500 Iraqi Arab families (about 75,000 individuals) have fled to the region.


Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (October 15, 2007)
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon reports on the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The Secretary-General summarizes the political developments in Iraq, citing political boycotts, assassinations, resignations and the formation of alliances. He criticizes the inadequate effort by the Iraqi government to provide basic services to internally displaced Iraqis The report concedes that ongoing violence in Iraq impedes the work of the UN in dealing with human rights violations, including the plight of detainees held in Iraqi and MNF facilities. The Secretary-General suggests there is an opportunity for the UN to increase its role in Iraq, especially in the area of national reconciliation.


Expired reagents blamed for erroneous Rift Valley Fever results (15 October 2007)

The reagents used for testing for Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in Nassiriyah, a town about 300km south of Baghdad, had expired, local authorities said on 14 October.


Shortage of safe water in Missan Province poses heath risk (09 Oct 2007)

(IRIN), A shortage of chemicals for water purification is adversely affecting water quality in Missan Province, a predominantly Shia region some 380km south of Baghdad, and posing a health risk as people resort to drawing water from the polluted River Tigris, according to aid agencies.


Fear among refugees as cholera crosses border (07 Oct 2007)

The World Health Organization reports over 3,300 confirmed cases of cholera in Iraq. At least 14 Iraqis have died from the disease. Some commentators point to fractures in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, the ‘sectarian’ divide in Iraqi hospitals and lack of access to medical supplies as reasons for the outbreak. However, other commentators blame the US for failing to reconstruct crucial infrastructure and placing restrictions on the importation of chlorine for fear that it will be used by insurgents in bomb making ( Tehran Times). Despite the efforts of the Iraqi government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to contain a recent cholera outbreak, the disease has already spread to half of the country and has also crossed the border into Iran, according to WHO and Iranian authorities. full report


First death registered among refugees at border (04 Oct 2007)

A woman from a group of 193 Iranian-Kurd refugees who have been stranded at the border of Jordan and Iraq for the past two and a half years became the first fatality there after she died on 2 October as a result of a disease complication, according to refugees at the camp and international and local relief organisations. full report


Shortage of cancer treatments puts thousands at risk (04 Oct 2007)

Hospitals specialising in cancer treatment have urged the Iraq authorities to replenish supplies because they say a shortage of essential medicines is putting the lives of thousands of patients at risk. full report


Difficult to access the needy in Diyala Province, say aid workers (03 Oct 2007)

The humanitarian situation in Diyala Province, eastern-central Iraq, is deteriorating because of continuing tension between armed factions and the difficulty of accessing internally displaced persons and the needy, said local aid workers. full report


Scabies said to be rife in several Iraqi prisons (02 Oct 2007)

Bad hygiene in several Iraqi prisons has caused prisoners to become infected with scabies, and no treatment is being given, according to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dealing with prisoners. full report


Polluted Shat al-Arab threatens life, could spread diseases (25 Sep 2007)

High rates of contamination in Iraq's Shat al-Arab river, formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris in the southern province of Basra, threaten life and could spread disease, a specialist told IRIN on 24 September.


Refugee crisis unfolds amid global apathy (Amnesty International, 25 Sep 2007)

The international community has not responded adequately to Iraq's spiralling refugee crisis and is leaving the main host countries, Syria and Jordan, to shoulder too much of the responsibility. In a report published today, Millions in flight: the Iraqi refugee crisis, Amnesty International commends the Syrian and Jordanian governments for largely keeping their borders open to date, but it criticizes other states for doing too little to help them cope with the huge demands they face in meeting the needs of around 2 million Iraqi refugees whom they now host.


Comments on the Lancet and other mortality studies (updated 18 Sep 2007)

According to a new study, 1.2 million Iraqis have met violent deaths since the 2003 invasion, the highest estimate of war-related fatalities yet. The study was done by the British polling firm ORB, which conducted face-to-face interviews with a sample of over 1,700 Iraqi adults in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Two provinces -- al-Anbar and Karbala -- were too dangerous to canvas, and officials in a third, Irbil, didn't give the researchers a permit to do their work. The study's margin of error was plus-minus 2.4 percent.


Crocker Blasts Refugee Process (September 17, 2007)
Iraqi refugees seeking resettlement in the US may wait up to two years before being admitted into the country. In a State Department cable, Ambassador Ryan C Crocker criticizes the bureaucratic obstacles in processing some 10,000 refugees referred by the UN for refugee status in the US. He recommends fast tracking security checks, increasing the number of processing officers and conducting interviews in Baghdad. Washington has been criticized since the beginning of the war for its reluctance to accept Iraqis, many of whom work alongside the US. Since 2003, the US has accepted only 1,521 Iraqi refugees. Meanwhile, Syria and Jordan struggle to accept the 60,000 refugees that flee across Iraq’s borders each month. (Washington Post)


The Nightmare Is Here (15 Sep 2007)
In this New York Times column, Bob Herbert addresses the largely untold story of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Herbert cites GPF's report
"War and Occupation in Iraq" on the plight of the two million displaced Iraqis and he mentions the equally large exodus of refugees, including nearly half the nation's doctors. Iraq has experienced a "rain of death" under the occupation and many of its children are "orphaned, homeless, malnourished and worse." President George Bush has warned that a US withdrawal will cause a “humanitarian nightmare,” Herbert notes, but "this nightmare arrived a good while ago."


Hospitals under pressure as doctors move abroad (6 Sep 2007)

Dr Muhammad Abdel-Sattar, 36, is packing his bags as he discusses on the phone with two colleagues the best time to leave for the airport. According to the Iraqi Medical Association (IMA), the shortage of doctors and nurses in Iraq is now critical and having a devastating effect, especially on small towns and villages. (IRIN)


Cholera Spreads in Iraq As Health Services Collapse  (31 Aug 2007)

Lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation has led to 5,000 people in northern Iraq contracting cholera. The outbreak is among the most serious signs yet that Iraqi health and social services are breaking down as the number of those living in camps and poor housing increases after people flee their homes.


More Iraqis Flee As Figure Tops Four Million: UNHCR (28 Aug 2007)

More than four million Iraqis have fled their homes because of sectarian violence, the largest population movement in the Middle East since Palestinians left the new state of Israel, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday. “An estimated 4.2 million Iraqis have been uprooted from their homes, with the monthly rate of displacement climbing to over 60,000 people compared to 50,000 previously,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists. More than two million Iraqis are displaced within their own country.


Iraq Body Count Running at Double Pace (25 Aug 2007)

Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths throughout the country compared with last year, with the average daily toll this year at 62 compared to 33 in 2006, and the number of displaced Iraqis has more than doubled since the start of the year.


More Iraqis Said to Flee Since Troop Rise (24 Aug 2007)
The US publicly blames the displacement of Iraqis on ‘sectarian’ violence. But this New York Times article describes how the US surge strategy has caused the number of internally displaced Iraqis to double to 1.1 million since its February 2007 implementation. This is despite the Bush administration’s claim that the troop build-
up improves security.

Iraqi Red Crescent: All-Time High IDP Count [PDF report] (17 Aug 2007)

Latest Red Crescent Tally Indicates 1.28M Internally Displaced Iraqis Due to War


Power Cuts Worsen as Iraqi Grid Nears Collapse (06 Aug 2007)

Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day at most. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations. Kerbala province, south of Baghdad, has been without power for three days, causing water mains to go dry in the Shia holy city of Kerbala, the provincial capital.


A Rising Refugee Crisis (31 July 2007)
The ongoing violence in Iraq has limited aid workers’ access to the most vulnerable communities. UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes calls for more action and resources to improve the plight of Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). In that same vein, Holmes urges that humanitarian efforts remain independent of any political, security or economic agenda. (International Herald Tribune)


Half of Iraq "In Absolute Poverty" (30 July 2007)

Up to eight million Iraqis require immediate emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in "absolute poverty", according to a report by Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi groups. About four million people are lacking food and "in dire need of different types of humanitarian assistance. Only 60 per cent of the four million people who depend on food assistance have access to rations from the government-run public distribution system, down from 96 per cent in 2004, the report said. The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003. The lack of effective sanitation was also highlighted by the joint report, which said 80 per cent of people in Iraq did not have safe access. The report said children were the hardest hit by the fall in living standards, stating child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent currently. (Read full Oxfam report in PDF)


Living Becomes Hard in a Dead City (23 July 2007)
Heavy U.S military operations, sectarian death squads and al-Qaeda militants have combined to make normal life in Baquba, 50 km northeast of Baghdad, all but impossible. The central market in the city of about 325,000 has vanished. The average house in Baquba gets one or two hours of electricity a day. It is not uncommon for three or four days to pass without a minute of electricity. Before the U.S.-led invasion, a litre of petrol in Iraq cost five cents; today in Baquba it is nearly two dollars.

Crushing Iraq’s Human Mosaic (July 13, 2007)
The US-led war in Iraq has deepened ethno-religious tensions and further subjected Iraq’s minorities to persecution. Members of Iraq’s smaller and lesser known communities, such as the Mandaeans, make up a significant proportion of the two million Iraqis fleeing the violence. Iraqi councilman Hunain Qaddo laments the exodus of the minority groups and the possible loss of “the value and culture of these people who have enriched [Iraqi] society.” (BBC)


Iraq Exodus Fuels Rise in Refugees, Displaced (July 11, 2007)
The latest report by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) evaluates how well countries observe asylum-seekers’ basic rights, including ensuring freedom of movement and providing physical protection and economic assistance. The USCRI links the unrelenting violence in Iraq directly to the burgeoning global refugee crisis. Iraqis constituted nearly half of the two million people worldwide fleeing their homelands in 2006. (Inter Press Service)


Iraqis Bemoan Lack of Services in Long, Hot Summer (July 11, 2007)
With no electricity to run their air conditioners, a majority of Iraqi families seek refuge from the oppressive heat indoors by sleeping on their flat rooftops – exposing themselves to the chronic violence. After four years of war, Iraqis’ access to water, electricity and fuel has reached the lowest level in decades. Many attribute the collapse of these most basic services to both government inefficiency and the intense fighting triggered by the US occupation. (Reuters)


Have the Tigris and Euphrates Run Dry? (July 9, 2007)
Even as two of the largest rivers in the Middle East course through Iraq, the country’s once-thriving agricultural sector has suffered significantly. Faced with grave fuel and electricity shortages, Iraqi farmers cannot run generators to pump water for irrigating their crops. After a decade of crippling UN sanctions and more than four years of a US-led war, efforts to rebuild these vital services have largely failed due to corruption and mismanagement. (Inter Press Service)


Media Silence about the Carnage in Iraq (July 5, 2007)
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died violently at the hands of coalition forces. Yet mainstream media reports of the daily fighting in Iraq often only include “brief accounts of several different operations, none of them presented as major events.” This CounterPunch article warns that such coverage grossly understates the rate of non-combatant fatalities – a statistic that will likely escalate as the US military presence in Iraq expands.


Statistics on Displaced Iraqis around the World (July 2007)

The UNHCR's April count figured 1.2 million Iraqis had sought refuge in Syria, but the Iraqi Red Crescent now estimates the number at 1.5 to 2 million. Iran went from 54,000 in April to 100,000 now, and Egypt increased from 100,000 to 150,000. (IRCO)


Health Ministry issues warning on waterborne diseases (03 July 2007)

Iraqi Health Ministry officials warned on 3 July of a possible increase in waterborne diseases among children and the elderly. Water and sewage networks have not been repaired and this could exacerbate the problem, which has been further highlighted by five cholera cases recently reported in southern Iraq. Many cases of viral hepatitis, diarrhoea, typhoid and bacterial infections have been registered in Baghdad due to polluted drinking water. (IRIN)


SYRIA: Warning of looming crisis as Iraqi refugee influx continues (28 June 2007)

With up to 2,000 Iraqi refugees arriving each day, adding to the 1.5 million - equivalent to around 8 percent of the Syrian population - who have flooded into Syria since the start of the US-led war on Iraq in 2003, economists and refugee experts warn of a looming social and economic crisis. Tens of thousands of Iraqi families are now living in and around Damascus pushing up demand for already limited goods and services. Observers warn pressures will soon become unbearable as Iraqis use up their savings and become more reliant on the Syrian welfare system. (IRIN)


Samarra Crackdown Making Life Difficult (28 June 2007)

Extra Security Forces Housed in Schools Shut Out Students.

In a bid to restore order in the northern city of Samarra after the bombing of its prized Shia shrine, 6,000 Iraqi soldiers and police have been deployed there, making it difficult for residents to go about their normal life. Local officials said nearly half of the security forces have been stationed in three schools and students have consequently been shut out. "Six schools of the 34 in Samarra have been occupied by security forces and three of the six were flattened when suicide bombers attacked the soldiers inside with massive car bombs," said Khalid Hamid, an official at Samarra Education Directorate. (IRIN)


Curfew-Bound Fallujah On The Boil Again (27 June 2007)
The siege in this city located 60km west of Baghdad has entered its second month. There is little sign of any international attention to the plight of the city. Fallujah, which is largely sympathetic to the Iraqi resistance, was assaulted twice by the U.S. military in 2004. Medical services are inaccessible to most because the hospital is located on the other side of the Euphrates River from the rest of the city. Extra security checkpoints have severely hampered movement within the city, and most businesses have closed. A year ago the local police cut mobile phone services. The curfew is also restricting residents' ability to go out and find much needed supplies in the markets. Residents told IPS that there is on average only two hours electricity in 24 hours.


'50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution (24 June 2007)

Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are being further betrayed after reaching 'safety' in Syria. There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi women's group Women's Will, puts the figure at 50,000. (The Independent)


IRCO: Nearly 2.5M Iraqi Refugees Under Age 12 (21 June 2007)

Red Crescent Chief: "Facing Humanitarian Tragedy of Unprecedented Proportions".

Fifty-five percent of Iraq's 4.5 million refugees are children under age 12, Iraqi Red Crescent President Said Hakki told the European Commission today in remarks marking World Refugee Day. Dr. Hakki appealed for immediate and massive international humanitarian intervention to avoid a "tragedy of unprecedented proportions."


Plight of refugees worsens as Syria, Jordan impose restrictions (17 June 2007)  

Every month, tens of thousands of Iraqis flee to Jordan and Syria - the only two neighbouring countries which have opened their borders to Iraqi refugees. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said recently that "the situation in Iraq continues to worsen", with at least 2.2 million Iraqis sheltering in Jordan and Syria. New entry and residency conditions have been imposed in Jordan and Syria, resulting in tens of thousands of refugees being stranded on Iraq's borders and families being divided according to their age and the type of passport they hold. (IRIN Middle East)


Iraqi refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic: A field-based snapshot (Brookings Institution - June 2007) - PDF file - click here.

In the past four years, the number of Iraqis who have been displaced by violence, both within Iraq's borders and in neighboring countries, has increased drastically. Of the estimated two million Iraqis who have sought protection in neighboring countries, at least 1.2 million to 1.5 million are presently in Syria. This study, part of a project funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that will assess patterns of Iraqi displacement inside Iraq and throughout the region, focuses on Iraqis who have come to Syria since 2003. Subsequent research will examine internal displacement in Iraq and the situation of Iraqis in other countries of the region. The research was carried out by a team of international and Iraqi researchers in March-April 2007 and is based on several hundred interviews with Iraqis living in Syria, as well as with Syrians, Palestinians and international officials.


Taking Sides or Saving Lives: Existential Choices for the Humanitarian Enterprise in Iraq (June, 2007)
This report by The Feinstein International Center assesses the humanitarian efforts in Iraq. According to the report, the humanitarian response has been slow and insufficient, due in part to concerns about the security of humanitarian workers. The study found Iraqis were responsive to humanitarian assistance, but many perceived the UN and NGOs as part of Coalition forces and were suspicious of aid workers as “spies.” The report recommends aid agencies distance themselves from MNF forces and ensure neutrality in order to gain the support of Iraqis. This is particularly important for the UN, if it is to overcome its “failure…to live up to its mandated humanitarian assistance and protection responsibilities in Iraq.”


Sectarian violence and displacement follow Samarra attack (14 June 2007)

Since 13 June, Mahdi army militants have been targeting Sunni mosques and families. At least six Sunni mosques have been burned in the capital and many civilians killed, said some observers. Since 13 June, the Iraqi police have released many reports about bodies found handcuffed, blindfolded and riddled with bullets in various locations, many with signs of torture. (IRIN Middle East)

Hundreds Go Missing or Get Killed at Checkpoints (06 June, 2007)
With a drastic increase of violence and disappearances at checkpoints in Baghdad , some citizens say they now fear checkpoints more than they fear explosions. Over a hundred Iraqis have gone missing after passing through checkpoints, which are run by Iraqi police, soldiers or insurgents. Many blame sectarian tension for the heightened insecurity at these alleged security posts, others argue that the problem lies with the security forces abusing their right to “arrest whomever they want." (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


Years of War, Current Insecurity Take Toll on Environment (05 June, 2007)
Amatullah Ibrahim, a senior official in Iraq's Ministry of Environment, stated “that Iraq's environment had been totally forgotten and could well be the worst in the world today.” The dire environmental situation is a direct result of war, outdated oil production methods and a lack of security which inhibits the proper removal of waste. The high level of pollution is not only changing Iraq’s climate, but also is a major detriment to public health. (IRIN)


Has Iraq Become the Largest Humanitarian Crisis on Planet? (05 June 2007)

The 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 70,000 to 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. 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.


Number of Iraqi displaced tops 4.2 million; shanty towns mushroom (05 June 2007)

GENEVA, June 5 (UNHCR) – The situation in Iraq continues to worsen, with more than 2 million Iraqis now believed to be displaced inside the country 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.


Cancer Emerges as Major Cause of Death in South (May 31, 2007)
In southern Iraq, instances of leukemia among children and breast cancer among women have increased by 20 percent since the start of the war. Doctors and researchers blame this surge on the breakdown of the Iraqi health care system, harmful pesticides used to grow food and depression of the immune system brought on by living in a constant war zone. Cancer deaths make up 45 percent of total deaths and children are frequently born without limbs or organs or develop cancer in as little time as four weeks after birth. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


Bureaucracy, Security Situation to Blame for Poor Distribution of Medical Supplies (May 22, 2007)
The medical system in Iraq has almost completely broken down, including the flawed distribution of life-saving drugs. Cedric Turlan from the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq blames the highly bureaucratic and centralized system of quality control testing for the slowed distribution of much needed drugs. Conversely, Rashid Fae’ek, a prominent public health analyst, blames the lack of security, including attacks by various factions on medical centers and healthcare workers. While the rich can buy their medicine at private pharmacies, the poor must wait for months or forgo treatment altogether. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


Immediate Needs for Iraqi Children in Iraq and Neighbouring Countries (May 17, 2007)
UNICEF calls attention to the dire situation of Iraqi children. According to this report, violence prevents children from having access to education, healthcare and a stable community life, harming the prospects of the country’s future generations. Displacement also leaves children in a precarious position and those who flee to Syria and Jordan are living with scarce resources and being turned away from school. UNICEF urges donor countries to contribute US$42 million toward humanitarian relief efforts to meet the needs of Iraqi children.


Few Iraqi Refugees Allowed into US (April 30, 2007)
The State Department declared that the US government has accepted only 68 Iraqi refugees in six months, claiming it lacks enough personnel to complete the immigration process. These numbers are far below the 2 million Iraqis that have left the country since 2003. Further, according to David Mack, the vice president of the Middle East Institute, it is clear that the US is not making a serious effort to receive these refugees because this sends the message that the security in Iraq is not improving. Refugees International insists that the US has a responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in the country, having provoked it. (USA Today)


UN warns of growing humanitarian crisis in occupied Iraq (25 April 2007)

The UN accused the Iraqi government of withholding the figures because the data would underscore the worsening humanitarian crisis. “We were told that the government was becoming increasingly concerned about the figures being used to portray the situation as very grim,” UNAMI human rights officer Ivana Vuco told a news conference

International conference highlights plight of Iraqi refugees (23 April 2007)

The statistics  are staggering when one considers that Iraq was previously one of the most developed nations in the Middle East. Over 50 percent of the population lives on less than $US1 per day. At least four million are assessed as being “food insecure”—meaning they live on the verge of starvation. An estimated 28 percent of Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition and 10 percent are suffering from chronic disease or illness. Iraq now has the highest mortality rate for children under five in the Middle East. The majority of those who have left the country are people who had some financial means. Close to 40 percent of Iraq’s middle class—university-educated professionals such as doctors, teachers, engineers and managers—is believed to have gone into exile. (WSWS )


Fleeing relief workers leave gap in aid delivery (02 April 2007)

Iraq is the deadliest country in the world for aid workers, specialists say. Treated as Western collaborators by insurgents and assumed to have sectarian bias by militias, they face death on a daily basis in the course of meeting the needs of an increasingly desperate population.  Since 2003, dozens of international NGOs and UN agencies have closed their Iraq offices after their volunteers or staff were targeted. The UN and most international NGOs operate from neighbouring countries and rely on Iraqi organisations to deliver supplies to families in need.


Violence Threatens Health in Iraq (April 17, 2007)
The World Health Organization warns of the chaotic health situation in Iraq. The escalating violence is increasing the pressure on hospitals that already face a lack of equipment, medicines and doctors. The Iraqi government estimates that roughly 70 percent of wounded Iraqis die in hospitals due to these shortages. Further, the health situation of the population is dire, with approximately 80 percent of Iraqis having no access to sanitation facilities and 21 percent of children under five suffering from malnutrition. Displacement has also intensified pressure not only on the Iraqi healthcare system, but also on those of neighboring countries.


Civilians without Protection – ICRC Report (April 11, 2007)
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is reaching alarming levels, says the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to this report, the country’s healthcare facilities face grave shortages of staff and supplies, and the water, sewage and electricity infrastructure is in a critical condition. Further, many Iraqis suffer of food shortages and malnutrition. The report says that “the conflict in Iraq is inflicting immense suffering on the entire population” and calls on governments and non-state actors to respect international law and protect the lives of Iraqi civilians.


Fix the Public Distribution System to Meet Needs of the Displaced (April 10, 2007)
About one million internally displaced people in Iraq have no source of livelihood and depend on the Public Distribution System (PDS) for food and fuel. However, the efficiency of this program has been declining due to corruption within the Iraqi government and violence that prevents trucks from reaching those in need. Further, the assistance program does not get to internally displaced Iraqis in the northern governorates. In order to resolve this situation, Refugees International calls on Iraqi and Coalition forces to increase the security for PDS convoys and urges the UN to recognize and address the humanitarian crisis in the country.


Four Years into the Occupation: No Health for Iraq (March 21, 2007)
This BRusssells Tribunal article points out that the conditions of Iraq’s health system are deteriorating. According to the Iraq Medical Association, 90 percent of hospitals in Iraq lack essential equipment and 18,000 of 34,000 physicians left the country. Further, the report of the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq revealed that military forces occupied Mosul Hospital and ambulances have been attacked on a regularly basis in Najaf, Fallujah and other parts of Anbar province. US forces have been also intruding into hospitals daily and Iraqis have refrained from using hospitals for fear of being shot. The US occupation of Iraq has resulted in a massive public health disaster for Iraqis.


Delivery of Aid Still a Problem Four Years after US Invasion (March 21, 2007)
After four years of US occupation, the vulnerable groups in Iraq still do not have access to humanitarian assistance due to the fragile security situation and the killing of aid workers, which has caused many NGOs to flee the country. According to the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq (NCCI), the number of aid workers killed since 2003 has reached 83 – the highest in any single country worldwide. Iraq’s humanitarian emergency has reached a crisis level, but the international relief system has not been able to respond accordingly. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq (March 6, 2007)
According to this report released by MADRE, an international women’s rights organization, violence against women is rising in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. Breaking a taboo in the country, two Iraqi women made public allegations of rape against Iraqi security forces. Madre’s Communication Director Yifat Susskind said that “what stands out about that allegation is the fact that those accused rapists have been trained and armed and funded by the United States." The report also blames the US for failing to protect women’s rights in Iraq and for having sparked the wave of violence against women while supporting Shiite militias that are known for such attacks.


How to Stop Genocide in Iraq (March 5, 2007)
According to this Los Angeles Times article, the US government attempts to justify its occupation of Iraq by arguing that a “possible genocide” could result from the troops’ departure. Those who defend the US presence in Iraq have failed to explain how US forces could reverse the civil war, especially since after four years the US government has not succeeded in stabilizing the security situation and preventing huge flow of refugees. The author argues that in order to avoid a greater bloodletting in Iraq, Washington should announce a withdrawal and address the humanitarian crisis in the country.


'Exodus' of Iraq's Ancient Minorities (February 26, 2007)
According to a report by Minority Rights Group International, a “huge exodus” of Iraq’s minorities is taking place in the country as these groups are constantly attacked by kidnappers and death squads that identify them with the occupation forces or see them as easy targets. The UN High Commissioner of Refugees says that 30 per cent of the 1.8 million Iraqis that left the country come from minorities. Some of these groups, which are the oldest communities in the world and may be 4,000 years old, are now facing the risk of extinction and their cultures could disappear. (Independent)


Now It Is Lack of Food Security (February 19, 2007)
Despite all its agricultural resources, Iraq is facing a collapse in food supplies. According to a report by the International Organization of Migration, 1.5 million internally displaced people in the country lack adequate food. Local and international food aid delivered to Iraq has diminished after kidnappings of activists in the country. Further, most of the local farmers are unable to get their food to the markets due to security reasons and many of them went bankrupt after the US administration decreased the tariffs on imported products. Nevertheless, foreign companies supply Iraqis with poor quality food, which now, due to inflation, is very expensive. (Inter Press Service)


Study: One-Third of Iraqis Live in Poverty (18 February 2007)

From a thriving middle income economy in the 70's and 80's, one-third of today's Iraqi population lives in poverty with more than five percent living in extreme poverty. The highest deprivation levels are in access to basic services such as electricity and water, followed by economic status of households, then the housing environment. These are some of the startling findings from the latest study prepared by the Iraqi Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology (COSIT) with the support of UNDP.


New Security Plan Could Make More Homeless (February 15, 2007)
This Integrated Regional Information Networks article argues the new Baghdad security plan, which aims to diminish the sectarian violence in the city, will only worsen the already chaotic situation. As part of the plan, the Iraqi government ordered those who occupy the homes of displaced families to vacate the properties within 15 days. Nevertheless, this could provoke an increase in the number of homeless people - as those leaving have nowhere else to go – and contribute to the rise of violence. According to aid workers and analysts, this step is premature as the government cannot ensure the security of those displaced and “the plan would create more problems than it would solve.”


Armed Groups Occupy Hospitals and Kidnap Doctors (February 13, 2007)
A growing number of Iraqis have been refraining from using hospitals due to fear of being shot or arrested by insurgent groups and official forces. US troops intrude into hospitals on a daily basis, placing or looking for snipers on the roof and arresting doctors. According to an Iraqi doctor, “whatever we say they arrest us and treat us, doctors, as if we are terrorists. They take us for interrogation and threaten us. So, in reality, we face danger from the insurgents as well as from the [official] troops.” This constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which state that hospitals are and should remain neutral and accessible to everybody, especially civilians. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)


More Palestinians flee Baghdad (February 1, 2007)
This Integrated Regional Information Networks article calls attention to the growing number of Palestinians fleeing Iraq due to violent attacks by Iraqi militias and the harassment by Iraqi authorities. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 700 Palestinians are stranded in camps at the Iraq-Syria border – denied entry by the Syrian government – and they are living in terrible conditions, with no access to potable water and medicines. UNHCR urges the neighboring and resettlement countries to find a solution for these refugees.


Health Care in Iraq Was Better Under Saddam Hussein (19 Jan 2007)

By Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch
Almost four years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s healthcare system is still a shambles. Dozens of incomplete clinics and warehoused equipment are a testament to the failed U.S. experiment to reconstruct Iraq.


US Offers Scant Help to Fleeing Refugees (January 17, 2007)
Violence and displacement have grown in Iraq since the US invasion, with approximately two million refugees and 1.7 million internally displaced people in the country. Nevertheless, the US has not taken responsibility in addressing this humanitarian crisis. The US government has only granted refugee status to 466 Iraqis since 2003 and has only allocated US$20 million for humanitarian aid in Iraq for the year 2007, which is far below its daily spending on military operations. This Inter Press Service article argues the US has the “moral obligation” to address the humanitarian crisis in the country, having provoked it.


US Air Strikes Isolate Baqubah Villagers (January 16, 2007)
The US launched air strikes against rural villages in Baqubah, claiming the offensive aimed to crush the insurgency. US officials said the attacks were successful and there were no civilian casualties. However, according to the media officer for Diyala province council, at least 14 civilians were killed and approximately 110 families were without water and food supplies as there was no prior announcement about the offensive. The Institute of Peace and Development in Iraq also reported that US troops have blocked NGOs' access to the villages, hindering them from helping those Iraqis with urgent needs. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)



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