Friday, March 28, 2008

Internally Displaced Persons

Iraq Working Group for Internally Displaced Persons
Update (24 March 2008)

Main Issues Below – Full Report

• It is estimated that over 2.77 million people are currently displaced inside Iraq as of 20 March 2008. Of these, 1.2 million were displaced before 2006 and more than 1.5 million were displaced in 2006 and 2007; less than 1% was displaced in 2008.

• New displacement is continuing at a much lower pace than for the past two years but secondary displacement has been reported in Baghdad.

• Most of the Post-2006 IDPs come from Baghdad and Diyala.

• While the majority of Pre-2006 IDPs were displaced in the three Northern Governorates (53%) and in the South (33%), 58% of Post-2006 IDPs are displaced in the six Central Governorates, 27% in the South and 15% in the three Northern Governorates.

• Percentage of IDPs compared to total estimated governorate population is highest in Dahuk, Baghdad, Wassit and Kerbala.

• More than 560,000 IDPs are living in Baghdad Governorate. 40% of surveyed IDPs in Baghdad have fled due to direct threats and forced eviction from their property, while between 10% and 17% have fled due to generalized violence and fear.

• At present, large-scale return movements have not been noted. Actual numbers of IDP and refugee returnees are currently uncertain. According to the latest figures released by MoDM, nearly 6,000 IDP families have returned so far (2% of Post-2006 IDPs) and approximately 45,000 individuals have returned from Syria in 2007.The actual numbers are likely higher.

• Returnees mostly return to those neighbourhoods/districts/governorates under control of members of their sect. To date, only a few families returned to areas under control of another sect. No members of minority groups (e.g., Christians, Sabaean-Mandaeans and Yazidis) have been reported to be among the returnees.

• According to the current estimation, the number of IDPs in need of adequate shelter and food is now higher than one million. In addition, over one million cannot access regular income. Around 300,000 individuals have no access to clean water and are in need of legal aid to enable them to access other basic services.

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This IDP Update has been produced by IDP Working Group members (UNHCR, IOM, other UN Agencies and NGOs). It is based on surveillance data gathered by IDP WG members, as well as information provided by the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), ICRC and other NGOs.

Implications of the Fighting in Basra

An estimated 130 people have been killed in the first four days of fighting in Basra. The US air force has launched missile attacks against targets in Basra for the first time in support of the Government action and a strict curfew has been imposed on Baghdad. Witnesses report that Mehdi army forces have taken control of Nassiriya and clashes continue in Kut, Hilla, Amara, Kerbala and Diwaniya. US forces have also used helicopter gunships in attacks against individuals in sadr city - Baghdad.

Juan Cole looks at the root causes and offers this overview of the political dynamics.

“My reading is that the US faced a dilemma in Iraq. It needed to have new provincial elections in an attempt to mollify the Sunni Arabs, especially in Sunni-majority provinces like Diyala, which has nevertheless been ruled by the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. But if they have provincial elections, their chief ally, the Islamic Supreme Council, might well lose southern provinces to the Sadr Movement.

In turn, the Sadrists are demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, whereas ISCI wants US troops to remain. So the setting of October, 2008, as the date for provincial elections provoked this crisis. I think Cheney probably told ISCI and Prime Minister al-Maliki that the way to fix this problem and forestall the Sadrists coming to power in Iraq, was to destroy the Mahdi Army, the Sadrists' paramilitary.

Without that coercive power, the Sadrists might not remain so important, is probably their thinking. I believe them to be wrong, and suspect that if the elections are fair, the Sadrists will sweep to power and may even get a sympathy vote. It is admittedly a big 'if.'”

U.S. forces drawn deeper into Iraq crackdown
By: Peter Graff and Waleed Ibrahim, Reuters

The Humanitarian Impact:

Humanitarian Situation Set To Worsen in South
International Organization of Migration (IOM), 28 March

IOM's humanitarian activities in Iraq's southern city of Basra and as well as in other southern governorates have been put on hold as violence and curfew prevent staff and partners from providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) and vulnerable populations.

Staff report that with the potable water network down in most parts of Basra as well as electricity being shut down, priority needs of the population is water, food and medical supplies for hospitals with the situation expected to deteriorate in the coming days. The suddenness of the crackdown had meant little to no time for people to stock up on essentials.

Humanitarian Situation in Basra and Baghdad
International Committee of the Red Cross, 28 March 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What You Should Know About the Latest Violence

In order to move beyond a simplistic view of the violence in Iraq as being fueled by ancient ethnic or sectarian animosity, the first article details how “sectarian-based street-fighting is a symptom of a larger political conflict, one that has been poorly analyzed in the mainstream press. The real source of conflict in Iraq -- and the reason political reconciliation has been so difficult -- is a fundamental disagreement over what the future of Iraq will look like.”

Five Things You Need to Know to Understand the Latest Violence in Iraq
By: Joshua Holland & Raed Jarrar, 27 March 2008

The Internal Shia Conflict in Iraq
Al Jazeera English, 26 March

Bush Administration Takes Credit for Iraqi Offensive in Basra
McClarchy, Nancy Youssef, 26 March 2008

These two short videos from a symposium on Iraqi refugees organized last May are still relevant. It can be a quick tutorial to the impact of on-going decisions of the US to ignore the political process being pursued by Iraqis.

The roots of violence in Iraq (1min 19 sec)

The U.S. Role in Violence in Iraq (3min 4 sec)

Full playlist: Symposium on Iraqi Refugees (19 May 2007)
Kristele Younis, Noah Merrill, Raed Jarrar

Monday, March 24, 2008

4,000 Too Many

Commemorate the Human Cost

On-line listing of events across the country marking the 4,000th U.S. military death in Iraq. Help us commemorate all of those who have suffered in this war the U.S. military fatalities, the thousands of wounded soldiers, the estimated 600,000-1,000,000 Iraqis dead, the estimated 4.5 million Iraqis driven from their homes, and all of their families. We have an updated resource page where you to learn more.

Military and Gold Star Families Mourn 4,000th Troop Death in Iraq
Military Families Speak Out, 23 March 2008

“As the sixth year of the war in Iraq begins, the next grim milestone has just been reached: the 4,000th troop death. Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), the largest organization of military families to oppose a war in this country’s history, asks all in the nation to stop and reflect on the human toll of this war, and press Congress - including the major presidential candidates - to reject President Bush’s request for another $70 billion to continue the war, and instead appropriate all funds needed to bring our troops home quickly and safety, and take care of them when they get here.” MFSO Home Page

4,000 US Troops Dead Nearly 60 Dead in Iraq Attacks
Juan Cole: Informed Comment, 24 March 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Iraqi Voices From Beirut | Iraq Update

Today’s update gives more details on activities being planned around the 4,000 US soldier death, Nearly 4,000 US Soldier Deaths

Dreams of reaching Europe grind to a halt in Beirut ghetto

Rabi'a, an Iraqi refugee, is cooking in the narrow, filthy corridor that doubles as a makeshift kitchen in his tiny apartment in eastern Beirut. There is a gas burner, a sink, a cupboard and a small plastic bucket overflowing with garbage and potato peelings. At one end of the room a door leads to a reeking toilet. The heavy smell of urine mixes with that of the months-old oil he is pushing round the frying pan.

"I fry the best tomatoes in the world, the most delicious dish," he tells me. "You must have some with us." In Iraq they used to call this dish the "dinner of the sanctions", after the decade-long economic blockade imposed on the country in the 1990s.

Click here to watch the Winter Soldier hearings organized by the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bearing Witness: Five Years of the Iraq War

Interviews and images with Baghdad bureau chiefs, correspondents, and Iraqi journalists that work the streets fuel this powerful site. It shows the impact of a decision by a news agency – and its staff - to stay in Iraq, and report the stories.

Bearing Witness: Five Years of the Iraq War
Reuters, March 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Memory

Moments of silence, flags at half-mast and federal buildings shrouded in black would just begin to address the suffering we have brought to Iraq after five years of war and occupation.

After five years, there are more US troops in Iraq and more money spent each day to sustain the military occupation. After five years there is less congressional support to defund the war and continued Iraqi deaths, displacement and fear.

These clips, the first two from Baghdad today will remind you what is at stake.

Iraq's lost generation (4 min 32 sec)
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, 19 March 2008 bio

Baghdad: City of Walls (4min 37 sec)
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, 18 March 2008

The Human Cost of War (2 min)
American Friends Service Committee

One Day = $720 Million (1min 46 sec)
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Five Years | One in Five Displaced

To help make sense of the volume of written material, here is a modest selection of overviews looking back on five years of war and occupation. Weighing the options, I was struck by the relative lack of political analysis verses the amount of information highlighting the humanitarian crisis for Iraqis - inside the country, and as refugees. Those studies are at the heart of this list. Sadly, for most people, these reports will only be mentioned in passing by an AP or Reuters wire story.

Gaith Abdul-Ahad returns to his hometown to look at the impact of the war on what has become a city of walls. Take a moment to look at his video dispatches. Patrick Cockburn reviews the occupation and sees a country utterly ruined, fearing the impact of a new US armed militia 80,000 strong. Amy Goodman is rebroadcasting the testimonies from last weekend’s Winter Soldier on Democracy Now, and a couple of links from international humanitarian agencies highlight the need to be healing the wounds of war.

One in five Iraqis displaced or refugees
Reuters, via International Organization for Migration, 18 March 2008

How to Destroy a Country in Five Years
Patrick Cockburn, 17 March 2008

Baghdad: City of Walls (video series)
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, 17 March 2008

Winter Soldier Broadcast
Democracy Now, 18 March

IRAQ: The Human Cost (database of reports on the human cost for Iraqis)
MIT Center for International Studies

IRAQ: No Let-Up in the Humanitarian Crisis
International Committee of the Red Cross, March 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

What Do You Know About Iraq?

Correct answers are highlighted with links to sources.

1) How much does the US pay per day for the war in Iraq?
A) $100 million
B) $270 million
C) $525 million
D) $720 million

2) If the US spends $1 per day in Iraq, how much would go to repair and humanitarian assistance?
A) 7 cents
B) 13 cents
C) Fraction of one penny
D) 1 penny

3) What is the population of Iraq?
A) 53 million
B) 12 million
C) 27 million
D) 100 million

4) How many Iraqis have been displaced from their homes?
A) 8 million
B) 100,000
C) 5 million
D) 3 million

5) How many Iraqi have been killed?
A) 750,000
B) 1 million
C) 500,000
D) 17,000

6) How many Iraqis are now refugees outside the country?
A) 3.7 million
B) 750,000
C) 900,000
D) 2.4 million

7) How many Iraqi refugees has Syria accepted?
A) 75,000
B) 1.4 million
C) 500,000
D) 900,000

8) How many Iraqi refugees has the US accepted?
A) 750
B) 100,000
C) 725,000
D) 1,700

9) How many US troops are in Iraq? (Not including mercenaries & private contractors)
A) 50,000
B) 325,000
C) 700,000
D) 165,000

10) What countries border Iraq?
A) Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Pakistan
B) Yemen, Sudan, Somalia
C) Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
D) Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan