Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq

This new report by two seasoned travelers to the region gives an accounting of the humanitarian crisis inside of Iraq. It has helpful policy recommendations regarding increasing assistance, for Iraqis returning home (which is discouraged at the moment), and the way forward.

Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq
Kristele Younis and Nir Rosen, Refugees International (April 2008)

Executive summary (excerpt)

Five years after the US -led invasion, Iraq remains a deeply violent and divided society. Faced with one of the largest displacement and humanitarian crises in the world, Iraqi civilians are in urgent need of assistance. Particularly vulnerable are the 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis who have fled their homes for safer locations inside Iraq. Unable to access their food rations and often unemployed, they live in squalid conditions, have run out of resources and find it extremely difficult to access essential services. The US, the government of Iraq and the international community must begin to address the consequences of leaving Iraqis' humanitarian needs unmet.

As a result of the vacuum created by the failure of both the Iraqi Government and the international community to act in a timely and adequate manner, non-state actors play a major role in providing assistance to vulnerable Iraqis. Militias of all denominations are improving their local base of support by providing social services in the neighborhoods and towns they control. Through a 'Hezbollah-like' scheme, the Shiite Sadrist movement has established itself as the main service provider in the country. Similarly, other Shiite and Sunni groups are gaining ground and support through the delivery of food, oil, electricity, clothes and money to the civilians living in their fiefdoms. Not only do these militias now have a quasi-monopoly in the large-scale provision of assistance in Iraq, they are also recruiting an increasing number of civilians to their militias - including displaced Iraqis.

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