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 2,000 Iraqi army officers killed

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مُساهمةموضوع: 2,000 Iraqi army officers killed    الخميس 06 يناير 2011, 10:11 pm

2,000 Iraqi army officers killed






Attacks, mainly by silencer guns and explosive devices targeting Iraqi army officers, have surged recently and more than 2,000 officers are reported to have been killed in the past few months.

Intelligence sources, refusing to be named, said in the face of the "new form of terror," Iraqi security forces have intensified their searches of individuals and vehicles particularly in Baghdad.

The intelligence sources said there were organized "assassination groups" whose main target was killing Iraqi army officers.To check the upsurge in violence directed at Iraqi army officers, the government says it is ready to pay more than $40,000 for informers on the deadly assassins.

A senior intelligence officer admitted that "these assassination networks" had infiltrated security, police and government ranks and were using government-licensed vehicles and identity cards to carry out their attacks.

Jihad al-Jaberi of the anti-explosive squad said "up to five army officers are killed by silencer guns" in Baghdad every week.Jaberi refused to deny or admit unidentified intelligence officer reports that more than 2,000 army officers have been killed so far.

However, Jaberi said assassination networks had infiltrated Baghdad and were very active. "They have their own intelligence gathering methods. They monitor their targets carefully and only attack when they are absolutely sure they are not be caught.""The past few days have seen an extensive campaign by these networks," he added.

By Karim Abdulzair,
Azzaman


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Iraq Moves to Ban Toy Guns






The Ministry of Health here is campaigning to ban the sale of guns in Iraq. Toy guns, that is.

Baghdad’s toy markets are stocked with plastic weapons in all prices and sizes: toy guns, tanks, knives, uniforms, even silencers. In a country where guns and military gear are heartbreakingly prevalent, basic training begins early.

“It’s the responsibility of the community to get rid of these toys,” said Dr. Emad Abdulrazaq, national adviser for mental health at the ministry. “They make it easier for a child to make the next step to real violence, because every day he enjoys guns.”

The ministry, which itself has no authority to regulate toy sales, has urged the government to ban all toy weapons. But for now it is concentrating on one: a cheap plastic air pistol highly popular among boys that fires plastic pellets and has been the source of hundreds, possibly thousands, of eye injuries.Dr. Kudair al-Tai, head of the technical department at Ibn al-Haytham Hospital, the country’s main eye hospital, is one of those waging the campaign.

On a recent morning, Dr. Tai examined the eye of a 5-year-old boy named Mustafa, searching for scratches or internal bleeding. In late November, during Id al-Adha, the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, the boy was playing with his neighbors when one of them fired an air pistol, hitting him in the eye. The boy looked alright, but for seven days he cried and could not sleep. Finally, his father took him to the eye hospital, where Dr. Tai discovered a yellow plastic pellet the size of a small pea lodged between his eyeball and the surrounding socket. There was bleeding in the eye’s interior chamber and partial dislocation of the iris.

“He was lucky,” Dr. Tai said. Many children suffer much worse injuries from the pellets.

During the five-day celebration of Id al-Adha, when families give children money to buy toys, Dr. Tai said, he often sees several injuries from pellet guns a day, some severe enough to require surgery. This year he went on television to advise parents not to buy the guns.

“The problem is not with the parents who purchase these toys but with the merchants that import such kind of toys,” Dr. Tai said. Because the toys are popular, parents “cannot resist their children’s persistence,” he said. He said he had seen toy air pistols with a range of 50 yards.

Children here live amid the impact of real violence, both on the news and in their neighborhoods. During the height of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007, bodies often remained on the streets for days before being collected. Few children have access to psychiatric care, which is deeply stigmatized. Iraqi families are often large, and the children share rooms with their parents, so they are not sheltered from adult television or conversation — both of which commonly refer to horrific violence, theatrical or real.

“We have our own horror scenes, we don’t need extra,” said a hospital ward matron, who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to talk to reporters. “It should all be banned, any fireworks. The other day I started shouting at neighborhood kids who were shooting at each other. But at least they shot at each other’s legs, so they wouldn’t hurt their eyes.”

At the markets on Karada Street, where pellet guns sold for $8 or less, merchants said toy guns were their most popular.“The culture of violence is dominant,” said one shop owner, Hussein Mohammed, who declines to sell pellet guns.

“Children are no longer interested in educational games,” he said at his store. “All they want to play with is the games that express power and violence.”Teachers said that living with so much violence in both their real and fantasy lives had made students quicker to fight and less patient with their studies.

Where students used to ask teachers to help resolve conflicts, now they rarely do so, said Instisar Mohammed, a primary school teacher in the Yarmouk neighborhood, where most residents are relatively well educated. “They resolve with their fists more easily,” she said. “They fight a lot more than they used to.” She added that “after 15 minutes in the classroom they do not pay attention anymore and start moving around, then fighting.”

A ban on toy weapons is unlikely because it would require action by a number of ministries, none of them responsible for public health. But the Trade Ministry is in talks with health experts about a ban on some imports, a ministry spokeswoman said.Mustafa, who was shot in the eye, said he no longer talked to the neighbors who shot him.“I don’t like them,” he said. When he grows up, he said, he wants to be an ophthalmologist.

His father, Raad Kharaibut, 62, said he had tried to persuade the neighbors not to allow their children to play with the guns, but to no avail. “I don’t bring home such things because I know they are harmful,” he said. “We’ve seen similar incidents. Guns are not nice and not civilized toys.”

Even without the toys, he said, his son would be growing up in a martial culture. “The child sees checkpoints, he sees the military stop traffic,” he said. “The soldier has the gear, he has the right to express his power. The boy wants to be like that.”

The larger danger, though, is that a childhood spent among guns, real and toy, will make children more likely to embrace any use of power, Dr. Abdulrazaq said. “In the short term, it makes them more hostile at home and in school,” he said. “They become more cruel. In the long term, it will encourage them to engage in more adventures with weapons. He will be more vulnerable to be recruited by police, criminals or terrorists.”

Real guns, he said, “will be an enjoyment, not a stress.”

But for many parents, the question of whether to have toy guns at home rests on more immediate considerations. “They like it,” said Saddam Abdulsalam, who buys toy guns for his six children, though one shot his brother in the eye.

Even his three daughters play with the guns. “This is the new generation,” he said. “They will grow out of it.”

By John Leland,
the New York Times


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US aid may help few Iraqi refugees






Jordan, one of two main destinations for Iraqis displaced by the US-led war, has received nearly $400 million in aid designed to help as many as 1 million Iraqis reported to have fled there. Much of the aid came from the United States and went to the Jordanian government directly.

The idea was that donors would help Jordan, and Jordan would help the Iraqis.

But it's now widely recognized that the actual number of Iraqis in Jordan is vastly smaller than originally thought. The inflated numbers mean more aid went to the Jordanian government, and some argue that that prevented the Iraqis from getting effective assistance.

Iraqi Christians: Better off than other Iraqi refugees?

"We could have dealt with 50,000 refugees, who had very little, much more effectively, provided the funding had been appropriate," says Harriet Dodd, who was country director for CARE International in Jordan during the crisis.

Indeed, many nongovernmental organization workers, academics, and independent researchers now say that the aid has failed to provide the help Iraqis needed, while significant funding went to programs that suited Jordan's national priorities – and thus, some argue, it aided Jordanians more than Iraqis.

Officials from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) counter that building up local institutions like schools, hospitals, and water systems is the only effective and fair way to help the Iraqis.

A 'revolutionary' schoolA prime example is a school in Dahiet Amir Hasan in East Amman being built with help from USAID. It is only half finished, but it's clear that it will be offering a very different kind of education from that offered at Jordan's other government-run schools.

The classrooms are spacious, and there's a gym, an art studio, and a music room. Downstairs are science labs, equipped with vapor hoods, sinks, and Bunsen burners, and set up for students to conduct experiments in groups.

None of it would seem out of place to an American 12-year-old, but in a country where rote learning is still the basis of most education, it's almost revolutionary."It's really based upon a new philosophy of teaching," says Jay Knott, head of USAID in Jordan, which is behind the project. "In the 21st century, teaching kids by rote method is ... not going to advance you toward the vision of a knowledge-based economy."

USAID is putting up these incredible schools in low-income neighborhoods all over Jordan; 28 are currently in the works. The agency is also renovating and expanding 100 existing schools, boosting Jordan's government as it struggles to meet the educational needs of a young and rapidly growing population.

But a portion of this work is being done with money allocated by Congress to aid Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

All Iraqi children have, since 2007, been officially allowed to attend Jordanian government schools. Funding from international donors helped make that possible, and Mr. Knott says US funding is helping to relieve some of the burden those schools have shouldered by educating Iraqis as well as Jordanians.

While some displaced Iraqis will surely benefit from the new schools, many of the most needy have been resettled to third countries, and more will be gone long before the first of the schools that are supposed to serve them opens in September 2011. Schools built in expectation of hundreds of poor Iraqi students may end up serving only handfuls, or none at all.

"The schools in East Amman, where the most vulnerable populations were, just didn't have very many Iraqis," says Jason Erb, assistant country director for Save the Children in Jordan during the refugee crisis.

US, UN give aid straight to Jordanian governmentThe number of Iraqis in Jordan has been contested since the crisis began. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the Jordan office of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, prepared for a flood of refugees fleeing the conflict. But Iraqis only trickled in slowly, fleeing persecution, looking for jobs, or waiting until things got better back home.

So UNHCR was surprised, in 2006, when some of its partner agencies started reporting substantial numbers of displaced Iraqis coming to them for aid. Early guesses suggested there were between 500,000 and 1 million Iraqis in the country.At first, Jordan seemed dismissive of the reports, and was accused by human rights groups of trying to hide a huge refugee crisis.

But as the US and other international donors scrambled to respond, the crisis turned into a source of cash: From 2007 to 2009, Jordan received close to $400 million in aid officially directed toward Iraqis, much of which went either to the Jordanian government directly, or into programs like USAID's school construction program.

The lion's share of the aid came from the US. In 2008, Congress authorized $200 million in supplemental aid funding for Iraqi refugees; $110 million went straight to the Jordanian government, another $45 million went to existing USAID programs working in the water, health, and education sectors. UNHCR also gave 61 percent of its budget to the Jordanian government in 2007.

US and UN officials say that the aid contributed to creating "protection space" for Iraqis, meaning access to some basic services and protection from harassment and deportation.Number of Iraqis likely far lower than estimatedA 2007 survey found only 161,000 Iraqis in Jordan, a fraction of whom appeared to be poor or persecuted people who needed aid or asylum.

Other data have backed up the low estimate of the survey – carried out by the Norwegian NGO Fafo and Jordan's Department of Statistics – including the number of Iraqis registered in schools, and the number registered as refugees with UNHCR.

USAID officials said in 2008 they were aware of the number of Iraqis in the individual schools they're working on, but they had been asked by the Jordanian government not to share that information because it was "sensitive."

Support for 'community approach'Some say that giving aid to one group of people in a poor neighborhood, but not their neighbors, could cause a backlash, and that supporting Jordan's institutions was actually the best way to help displaced Iraqis.

"It's the best approach to improving education and health care," Knott says. "It's a community approach, and that's what our programs are designed to undertake."Mr. Erb argues that the aid program, though imperfect, did help those who needed it the most; it's just that those were often Jordanians, not Iraqis.

"If you looked at donor intention, it might not really have hit the nail on the head. But that shouldn't be the only applicable standard, when the needs of everyone around are so much greater," he says. "As much as Iraqi refugees needed the assistance, it was frustrating sometimes that we had to focus so much on the Iraqis, because there was often greater need among Jordanians."

By Nicholas Seeley,
The Christian Science Monitor


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Services project gets new lease of life






A project providing vulnerable Iraqi children living in Jordan with psychosocial services is about to experience a rebirth thanks to a partnership agreement with the Noor Al Hussein Foundation’s Institute for Family Health (IFH), reached on Monday.

Terre des hommes Lausanne (Tdh), an international NGO, launched the project in September 2008 with funding from the European Commission and UNICEF Jordan, and although the funding ends in August 2011, the centre, located in Hashemi Shamali, will not be closing its doors.

Tdh formally recognised the partnership agreement during a ceremony yesterday, attended by Her Majesty, Queen Noor, according to a statement released by the King Hussein Foundation.

Project manager Steina Bjorgvinsdottir said the overall goal of the project was to provide Iraqi children and their families with specialised psychosocial assistance.

“In a move like this, when people become refugees, the family dynamics change so the work that we’ve done is to try to heal the family dynamics so that the family can come together as one and they can live a healthy family life,” she explained.

According to Bjorgvinsdottir, the project has helped more than 1,500 individuals by providing them with individual or family counselling since the centre first opened its doors in east Amman in September 2008.While the majority of the centre’s clients are Iraqi, Tdh also serves vulnerable Jordanian children and their families.

“This is quite special… although this is something that most international organisations would strive for, in practice it’s not something that takes place,” Bjorgvinsdottir noted, referring to the partnership with a local organisation that wants to continue the work.

IFH Director Manal Tahtamouni also commended the alliance, noting that the official handover ceremony marks an important milestone in Jordan, the celebration of a partnership between an international NGO and a national organisation.

“It’s a success story we need to present to the international family,” she said, adding that the institute has its work cut out, as it will have to secure new donor funding to continue offering psychosocial services at the centre beyond 2011, in addition to the comprehensive array of health services and outreach programmes it wants to offer.

“IFH will include health services, reproductive health, training and outreach activities… We will also try to target more vulnerable Jordanian families,” the statement quoted Tahtamouni as saying.

UNICEF Representative in Jordan Dominique Hyde also welcomed the partnership agreement.

“We are really glad the counselling for children and parents is continuing… Tdh did an extraordinary job of supporting vulnerable Iraqis and Jordanians in east Amman”, she said adding, “this is a real success story”.

JORDAN TIMES


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Wales and the Question of Asylum







LAST year more than 1,500 people sought refuge in Wales claiming they faced persecution. David James examines the politically difficult question of asylum

IT is just one part of the controversial story of migration into Wales, yet one of the most politically difficult.

Every year, between 1,500 and 2,000 people ask for asylum in the UK and are housed in one of Wales’ four largest cities and towns.

As figures obtained by the Western Mail show, they come from more than 50 different countries across the world.

Their stories are often emotive tales of persecution, fleeing religious or sectarian violence in some of the world’s most troubled countries, yet more than half are turned down because they cannot prove the dangers they claim they face.

People who work closely with asylum seekers told the Western Mail that, in a political climate where successive governments have been under pressure to cut the number of people migrating into the UK, working with asylum seekers was fraught with difficulties.

Raad a Halabia, 49, an Iraqi Christian who has lived in Cardiff for nearly 30 years, works with asylum seekers through the organisation Asylum Justice.

He said one of the greatest difficulties was to help those in need while feeling frustrated that others had no legitimate claim. One of his fears is that granting too many applications will alienate the public against everyone who seeks refuge in this country.

“You hear stories that people face death and persecution, yet not everyone has a legitimate claim to stay,” he said.

Mr a Halabia is concerned about refugees from Iraq’s minority Christian community as they are often sent back to the north of Iraq because it is deemed safe, when they are not welcomed by the largely Muslim Kurdish community there.

Yet he criticises the Borders Agency for being too soft in other cases, arguing that it would only encourage applications from people who have no case to remain.

The agency’s difficulties are highlighted by controversial cases like that of Egyptian teenager Shrouk El-Attar, who has spent three formative years in Cardiff with her mother and is now fighting deportation after her mother’s claim was rejected.

The 18-year-old, who has cropped, dyed hair, argues she will face persecution as a lesbian in her staunchly Muslim homeland and says she has made a life here – yet the Home Office has fought her case in the courts as it does not recognise persecution over sexuality in Egypt as a cause for asylum.

Over recent years, as immigration has become a key political issue due to the rise of groups such as the British Nationalist Party, the Home Office has taken a tougher line.

It is likely to be one of the key reasons why the number of people seeking refuge in the UK has fallen from around 100,000 a year between 2000 and 2003 to 30,700 last year. Of those, 11,635 were last year deported, either voluntarily or by force.

Successful refugees now make up just more than 3% of the 560,000 migrants who come to the UK every year.

The Rev Aled Edwards is the chairman of the Displaced People In Action project which seeks to help to integrate refugees into society and educate the public about the value they can contribute.

He said Wales had been a world leader in treating asylum seekers and refugees, and had shown that offering medical treatment would not attract health tourists.

He said: “We have our prejudice and our difficulties but there was a report that showed quite significantly that Cardiff of all the major cities in the UK had the best attitude towards asylum seekers.”

One of the organisation’s projects is a scheme to retrain foreign doctors to work in the NHS and it has so far worked with 130 medics.

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work during the seven- and-a-half months that it takes, on average, to process an application for asylum and are often dependent on the state and charities.

Elizabeth Perret-Atkins, who works with a charity in Cardiff which hands out food parcels once a week to struggling asylum seekers, said that being unable to work was often their greatest frustration.

She said: “Many are highly skilled and they are frustrated that they are just wasting their time and cannot contribute.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said the 30,000 people who seek asylum in the UK every year were spread around the country, with 8% being placed in Wales and the south west of England.

The UK receives one of the largest numbers of asylum applications in Europe every year, behind only France, which last year received 42,000 applications.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The UK has a proud tradition of providing a place of safety for genuine refugees. However, we are determined to remove those who do not need our protection.”

by David James,
Western Mail
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