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 Iraqi Palestinians living in miserable conditions

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الدولة : المانيا
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تاريخ التسجيل : 07/10/2009
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مُساهمةموضوع: Iraqi Palestinians living in miserable conditions    السبت 08 يناير 2011, 21:52

Iraqi Palestinians living in miserable conditions

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees forced out of their homes in war-torn Iraq and settled eventually in Brazil have complained of the miserable conditions they and their families are experiencing because no one is taking care of them

In an appeal they sent to international human rights institutions, including the UNHCR, the refugees asserted they haven’t tasted the meaning of living since they arrived in Brazil two years ago, adding that many of them suffer from chronic diseases but no adequate medical attention was given to them in this regard.

"Many of us are sick but no one extend a hand of help for us… the ESAF organization that supervise us isn't fit to care for animals let alone caring for human being? This organization pays no respect to the simplest human needs… if they promise they tell a lie, and they rarely visit us… they don’t mind what happens to us", said the refugees in the appeal call.

They added, "The UNHCR which is the sponsor of all this program specified a period of two years for a humanitarian program it had planned for us since we left Iraq, but the period has expired now, and they told us to mange our own affairs from now on".

But the refugees confirmed they couldn’t manage their own affairs due to the poor economic condition and inadequate job opportunities in Brazil that made them unable to find job and live independently.

"We are foreigners here, and we have a culture, language, and traditions which are different from that of Brazilians that must be taken into consideration before anyone ask us to manage our own affair", the refugees underlined, fearing they and their families would end up begging in the streets and searching for food in the garbage.

As far as the Palestinian embassy in Brazil is concerned, the refugees underscored that officials of the embassy did not even bother themselves to pay a visit to the refugees despite the persistent appeals they are sending to them to look into their situation.

"If no one could ensure an honorable life conditions for us and for our children, then they should work hard to return us back to our own country Palestine" they stressed.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in Iraq were forced out of their homes at gunpoint at the hands of armed Iraqi militias shortly after the USA and its allies invaded Iraq and ousted Iraq's President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Palestinian Information Center

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Aziz May Die in Months

Saddam Hussein’s deputy and former Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, may die within months and should be freed from prison "as a humanitarian gesture," his eldest son said.

"He won’t survive more than two to three months," Ziad Tariq Aziz said of his father in a phone interview today from Amman, Jordan. The 74-year-old has had three strokes in the eight years he has been in prison and can no longer speak or walk, his son said. The family has sent medicine to his Baghdad jail "but no one knows if he took it or not," he added.

In October, a court set up to try senior members of the former Baathist regime condemned Aziz to death "for the persecution of Islamic parties," including the Shiite Muslim Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. President Jalal Talabani has refused to sign the order, joining the Vatican, Russia and Greece, along with the United Nations and the European Union, in objecting to the sentence, given Aziz’s age and health.

At least eight other senior Baathists are being held in Iraq. Their fate remains one of the most delicate issues facing al-Maliki’s government, which has pledged to heal sectarian rifts between Shiite Muslims and Sunnis, who dominated Hussein’s inner circle, and bring stability to the country as U.S. troops prepare to exit at the end of the year.

Hussein’s Execution

Talabani is against the death penalty on principle and has never signed off on an execution, including the December 2006 hanging of Hussein, which embarrassed the Iraqi government when a video emerged showing the former president being taunted at the gallows by Shiites. Under the constitution, death sentences must be ratified by the president, though an act of parliament or a veto by a vice president can override the presidential decision.

An appeal against his father’s death sentence was filed within the legal period of 30 days after he was condemned to die, and no one knows where the process stands, Ziad Aziz said.

The court ruling came as Iraqi leaders competed to form a new government after March’s inconclusive elections, and was politically motivated, the son added. Presiding Judge Mahmoud Saleh al-Hassan ran unsuccessfully for parliament as part of al- Maliki’s coalition, saying he would humiliate "Baathist tyrants".

"The entire world is against the implementation of execution. This is about revenge, not justice," said Ziad Aziz, 44. "They’ve implicated my father in everything, in every single case you can imagine. He’s been apportioned blame for issues that never even fell within the realm of his responsibilities."

Prison Sentences

Before Aziz received the death penalty, he had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the execution of 42 merchants and a further seven for helping to plan the forced displacement of Kurds from northeastern Iraq. He was acquitted of charges he had a role in the killing of Shiite protesters.

Aziz, a Christian from Mosul, met Hussein in the 1950s when they were activists for the then-banned Baath party and rose through the ranks when it came to power in 1968. When the U.S. issued a deck of cards to portray the most-wanted regime leaders after the 2003 invasion, Aziz was the eight of spades.

Ziad Aziz said he last saw his father on April 24, 2003, the day he surrendered to U.S. forces. Tariq Aziz was held in a U.S.-run prison before being handed over to Iraqi authorities in July as part of the Obama administration’s phased pullout of American forces.

The younger Aziz said al-Maliki’s new government should show mercy toward his father, citing the case of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who has cancer and was returned to Libya on compassionate grounds in 2009 after being imprisoned in Scotland for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

"As a humanitarian gesture, release my father," Aziz said.

By Massoud A Derhally and Caroline Alexander,
Bloomberg.To contact the reporters on this story: Massoud A. Derhally in Beirut, Lebanon, at mderhally@bloomberg.net. Caroline Alexander in London at calexander1@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Louis Meixler at lmeixler@bloomberg.net

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Iraq marks army's 90th anniversary

Iraq's army on Thursday marked the 90th anniversary of its 1921 founding with a huge military parade that included tanks and artillery weapons in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Commander-in-chief Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, standing on a small wooden platform at the foot of the imposing Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, took the salute as hundreds of soldiers marched past in the Armed Forces Day parade.

Also on show were 10 Abrams tanks Iraq has bought from the United States, whose forces are to withdraw from the country this year. A total of 140 such tanks to be delivered by the end of 2011.

About 20 helicopters and 10 training aircraft flew over the parade, but there were no fighters, as most of those were destroyed in the 2003 US-led invasion."We in the national unity government will not let the army be politicised, and it will be for all, not for a specific faction," Maliki said in a speech after placing a wreath on the tomb.

"Under the dictatorship it became the authority's politicised army. It was the enemy army against neighbouring countries, and the people," he said, referring to the regime of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

"While we are working on building a stable country, we want an army that doesn't carry any hatred for any country, and that is based on protecting the people, not like it was during the collapsed regime," Maliki said.

"All of us in the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, must work to build a non-politicised army that is able to protect the country, and must arm it and train it according to the needs of the country."

US forces dismantled the Iraqi army after toppling Saddam in 2003 in a move later widely panned for having put hundreds of thousands of men with military training out of work and potentially driving them into the arms of insurgents.

Since August 31, 2010, the main focus for the roughly 50,000 US troops remaining in the country is training police and the Iraqi army, which numbers about 300,000 men.

Under a security accord between Baghdad and Washington, the remaining American forces are to withdraw by the end of 2011.But though US forces are to withdraw, army chief of staff Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari has said the Iraqi army will still need American support.

"The army will be fully ready in 2020," Zebari told AFP in August. "If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020."

According to an AFP tally based on figures from the Iraqi defence, interior and health ministries released over the course of 2010, 429 soldiers were killed in violence that year -- an increase of 204 on the year before.

Maliki, who was approved by parliament for a second term of office along with a national unity cabinet on December 21 after more than nine months of political deadlock, has cited security as one of his top three priorities.

By Jacques Clement (

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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,

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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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