عدد المساهمات : 38614
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
|موضوع: Red Cross: Coping with violence الخميس 01 أبريل 2010, 18:33|| |
1.4.10Red Cross: Coping with violence By Nur Hussein Ghazali
The beginning of 2010 was marred by acts of violence that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, mainly in Baghdad, the central governorates and Najaf. In Mosul, families fled violence and sought refuge in safer areas. Although recent violence-related displacement has been sporadic, there remain some 2.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Iraq who had to leave their homes over recent years in search of safety.
Many Iraqis, especially those worst affected by the effects of the conflict and the ongoing violence, such as displaced, elderly and disabled people and women heading households, continued to struggle to feed their families. Their inability to buy enough of the essential goods they require remains a major concern.
Agriculture, formerly an important part of the economy, has been declining for the past decade. Individuals who have lost agricultural machinery to damage, age or disrepair often cannot replace it owing to a lack of financial wherewithal. In addition, the water supply has been hard hit by a failure to properly maintain pumping stations and irrigation and distribution canals, by the unreliable electricity supply and by higher fuel costs. The massive increase in the price of seed and fertilizer, and cheap imports from neighbouring countries, also play a role in making farming difficult, if not impossible, in many parts of Iraq. Many farmers try to survive by cultivating smaller patches of land, but as they are forced to use low-quality supplies the result is often poor harvests. Others have migrated to cities in search of other ways of earning a living.
The situation was exacerbated by the 2008 drought – the worst in the past 10 years – which had an especially severe impact on rain-fed agriculture in central, west-central and some northern parts of the country. In some areas, agricultural production was wiped out. After years of poor rainfalls, pastures were reduced and prices of fodder soared. According to an ICRC survey, breeders were forced to cut down their herds by more than 60 per cent in some parts of the country, which had a drastic effect on their livelihoods. "Before, we used to move to neighbouring districts. Now, everywhere is dry and we lost our crops and animals. How can we go on?," said one local farmer in Ninawa governorate.
For households that have lost their main wage earner, the economic situation is especially hard to endure. Most people who went missing in connection with recent wars or the ongoing violence, and most people behind bars, are adult males – usually breadwinners. The women and children they left behind often became isolated and therefore extremely vulnerable, despite the strong cultural solidarity among Iraqis.
The ICRC is helping the Iraqis who are worst off to cope with their hardships, and Iraqi communities to support themselves unaided. It is distributing seed and fertilizer, and fodder for livestock. In addition, it is vaccinating cattle and cleaning and improving irrigation canals. In 2009 alone, some 195,000 people benefited.
In January and February 2010, according to the ICRC’s own independent assessment carried out by the organization’s staff all over Iraq, more than 20,000 people benefited from its humanitarian assistance:
almost 15,500 displaced people (families headed by women) in Baghdad, Diyala, Salah Al-Din and Ninawa governorates were given monthly food parcels and hygiene items;
around 5,400 people recently displaced from Mosul to Hamdanya and Tilkaif received emergency food parcels, rice and ready-to-eat meals;
over 1,900 farmers in Diyala governorate received 491.5 metric tonnes of urea fertilizer to help them improve their harvest and make their farming sustainable;
43 disabled people in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaimaniya and Ninewa governorates benefited from micro-economic aid enabling them to start small businesses and regain economic self-sufficiency.
The ICRC also endeavoured to respond to other needs of the Iraqi population in January and February.
Providing clean water and sanitation
Access to clean water remains inadequate in several parts of the country. Only 45 per cent of the population, on average, have clean drinking water and 20 per cent proper sewage disposal. ICRC water engineers continue to repair and upgrade water, electrical and sanitation facilities all over Iraq, especially in areas where violence remains a concern, to enhance access for civilians to clean water and to improve the quality of services provided in communities and health-care facilities.
Baghdad governorate: Samadiya water compact unit for about 20,000 people, Al Mahmodiya General Hospital serving some 400,000 people living in the area, Ibn Al Khateeb Infectious Diseases Hospital, Medico Legal Institute, Tabat al Kurd water boosting station for over 3,500 people and Al Mada’in water treatment plant for 470,000 people (including displaced people) plus three hospitals and eight primary health-care centres.
Anbar governorate: Heet water treatment plant for 45,000 residents and 250 displaced people, Habbaniya water treatment plant for 30,000 residents and 1,500 displaced people, and Al Qaim Hospital providing health care for around 350,000 area inhabitants.
Salah Al Din governorate: al Dor clinic and Dijail compact unit supplying water to almost 25,000 people.
Other water-related works were carried out that will benefit nearly 100,000 people in Missan, Diwaniya and Diyala governorates, and in Ninawa governorate where 3,000 inmates held at Badoosh prison will be among those benefiting.
Water was delivered by truck to:
4,500 displaced people in Sadr City and 340 in Husseinia and Ma’amil, and in Baghdad Teaching Hospital, all in Baghdad governorate;
Qalawa Quarter camp in Sulaimaniya, hosting around 360 displaced people. Two damaged tanks of 5,000 litres each have been replaced.
Assisting hospitals and physical rehabilitation centres
Health-care services are still inadequate. In some areas, it is difficult to reach health facilities because of the prevailing lack of security. Iraqi health facilities still benefit from ICRC support. Limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation services are provided by the ICRC to help disabled people reintegrate into the community. In January and February:
12 hospitals and three primary health-care centres received medical supplies and equipment;
34 doctors and nurses successfully took part in a training course on strengthening emergency services given in Sulaimaniya Emergency Hospital and in Al Sadr Teaching Hospital in Najaf;
26 managers working in the field of primary health care in Ninawa, Kirkuk, Erbil and Diyala governorates participated in a forum, held in Erbil, on improving the quality of health care services in rural primary health-care centres;
two physiotherapists from Najaf, two from Hilla, one from Sulaimaniya and one from Erbil attended a three-week training course in Erbil, where the ICRC runs a physical rehabilitation centre.
Visiting detainees remains a top priority for the ICRC in Iraq. In January and February, ICRC delegates visited detainees held:
in Fort Suse Federal Prison, Sulaimaniya governorate; in Nasiriya Prison, Thi-Qar governorate; in Mina and Maaqal prisons, Basra governorate;
in Tasfirat Kirkuk, Emergency Police Station and Juvenile Police Centre; in Assayesh KDP Station, Kirkuk governorate;
in Brigade 54, 6th Division, Baghdad governorate;
in six prisons and two police stations in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniya governorates;
in Camp Taji (US custody), Baghdad governorate. This was the last visit to the detention facility prior to its handover to Iraqi authorities.
Around 5,200 detainees held in Fort Suse, Chamchamal, Khademiya, Adhala and Amarah prisons received blankets, mattresses and clothes to help them cope with the cold winter season. In Chamchamal Federal Prison, 34 disabled detainees were given crutches as part of a follow-up carried out by ICRC health delegates of health care in the prison.
More than 7,800 Red Cross messages were exchanged between detainees and their families in January and February. In addition, 626 detention certificates were issued to former detainees or internees to make them eligible for social welfare benefits.
Clarifying what happened to missing people
The ICRC supports the authorities in their efforts to clarify what happened to those who went missing in connection with the Iran-Iraq War and the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It also helps train forensic professionals in the identification and management of mortal remains and regularly supplies equipment. In January and February:
the mortal remains of nine Iranian soldiers were repatriated from Iraq under ICRC auspices;
the Technical Sub-Committee of the Tripartite Commission, handling cases of persons missing in connection with the 1990-1991 Gulf War, held its 63rd session in Kuwait, which was chaired by the ICRC and attended by representatives from Iraq, Kuwait and the 1990-1991 Coalition (the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Saudi Arabia);
two days of training by an ICRC forensic specialist were provided for staff of Al Zubair centre to help them better manage the files of thousands of missing persons.
Promoting international humanitarian law
Reminding parties to a conflict of their obligation to protect civilians is a fundamental part of the ICRC’s work. The organization also endeavours to promote international humanitarian law within the civil society. In this framework, a series of presentations were organized for various audiences, which included military personnel, prison staff, students and professors
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 6:51 AM 0 comments Links to this post UNHCR sees deepening needs among refugees by Wafa Amr
Seven years after the start of the Iraq war, the future of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees remains shrouded in uncertainty. While much of the world is losing interest in their fate, UNHCR is warning of deepening needs that will take years to resolve.
Most Iraqi refugees see no immediate solution to their plight, unconvinced it is safe to return home. Although conditions in Iraq have improved over the past two years, the situation remains fragile. In recent months, the number returning has been largely offset by new departures from Iraq.
Those who remain in host countries are not allowed to integrate locally and are in a state of legal limbo. With savings used up, the conditions of Iraqi refugees are deteriorating. If the outflow resumed, host countries facing strained resources and dwindling international financial support could close their doors to Iraqi asylum seekers.
"Seven years after the start of the Iraq conflict in March 2003, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis still are still uncertain about their future and their prospects for return," said Renata Dubini, the head of UNHCR's office in Syria. The agency has registered some 300,000 Iraqi refugees who have approached UNHCR offices in the surrounding countries, while government estimates are far higher.
"Prolonged exile can have a crushing impact on a person's sense of dignity and self-worth. With any savings or resources depleted, many refugees are resorting to negative coping mechanisms in order to survive. Problems like school drop-out, child labour, domestic violence, trafficking and exploitation are on the rise, all of which are difficult to monitor and detect."
UNHCR is seeking US$510 million to fund programmes for Iraqis inside Iraq and in hosting countries this year. The Iraqi refugee population is largest in Syria, with some 250,000 registered with UNHCR. Another 47,000 have been registered with UNHCR in Jordan, while Lebanon hosts 10,000 registered refugees.
"Over the years, we have made considerable progress in terms of providing quality assistance and maintaining the protection space for Iraqis in Syria," said Dubini. "However, vulnerabilities are deepening at a time when the world is losing interest in Iraqi refugees. We count on the continued support of the international community and host governments to care for the hundreds of thousands still in need of our help."
Iraqis fleeing to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and other states are generally poor and need medical care, education, financial aid and protection. Since states hosting the largest number of Iraqi refugees such as Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon are not signatories to the 1951 Convention that defines the rights and obligations of refugees and host countries, refugees are not granted residency and risk detention, exploitation or deportation.
Because refugees cannot legally work and face recent price rises in rent, food, and fuel in host countries, UNHCR is working on reducing the impact and trying to counter homelessness, child labour, school dropouts and early marriage. The number of refugees with special needs is rising. Financial assistance remains essential for families, especially the most vulnerable.
UNHCR Syria has identified some 85,000 Iraqi refugees with special needs, including 10,549 women at risk. In Jordan, UNHCR assists more than 11,000 Iraqi refugees with specific vulnerabilities. In Lebanon, more than 1,600 Iraqis are especially vulnerable.
UNHCR is running a programme of resettlement for Iraqi refugees who are either unable to ever return home or are too vulnerable to remain in their current host countries. So far UNHCR staff have interviewed and referred for resettlement over 93,000 Iraqis, including 66,000 to the United States. The individual resettlement countries then examine the recommended cases, with more than 40,000 Iraqi refugees already starting new lives in third countries.
For the rest, they wait in the host countries, watching developments at home. Inside Iraq, UNHCR tries to monitor the relatively small number who do return and also hopes to improve conditions to allow some of the 1.7 million Iraqis displaced inside their country since 2003 to go home. UNHCR expanded staffing by 50 per cent in 2009 to 150 throughout Iraq.
Over 2,000 Iraqis are estimated to return to Iraq each month but UNHCR's assessment is that conditions for sustainable, large-scale return of Iraqi refugees in conditions of dignity and safety are not yet in place. UNHCR will help those wishing to return but is not advocating that people go home.
With Iraq at a critical stage of its political development following the national elections earlier in March, and with a planned U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of 2011, UNHCR is anxious that the international community maintain support to displaced Iraqis inside and outside the country. The dwindling media interest in Iraqi refugees is not matched by a decline in the scale of the problem.
By Wafa Amr in Beirut, Lebanon
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 6:32 AM 0 comments Links to this post UN backs Iraq election results by Al-Jazeera
The UN Security Council has called on all Iraqi political parties "to respect the certified election results and the choices of the Iraqi people".The body also urged the country's political leaders "to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and actions".
As the Security Council issued its non-binding statement on Wednesday, political manoeuvring intensified following last Friday's release of final election results that gave a coalition led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia former prime minister who drew on strong Sunni support, two seats more than a bloc led by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister.
Al-Maliki has called for a full manual recount and his bloc has submitted legal complaints, but Iraq's election commission dismissed those calls, saying there had been no evidence of serious electoral fraud.
The Security Council congratulated the people and government of Iraq for holding a "successful election" and welcomed Friday's announcement of the provisional results by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), saying it looked forward to certification by the Iraq's supreme court.
Security Council members noted the findings of international and independent Iraqi observers "who affirmed their confidence in the overall integrity of the election"."The members of the security council look forward to the formation of the new government in a spirit of co-operation and respect for national unity," it said in a statement.
In Baghdad, both Allawi and al-Maliki are seeking to assemble coalitions to get the 163 seats necessary to secure a majority in parliament and form a government.
Allawi was dealt a blow this week when the Justice and Accountability Commission said six members of his Iraqiya bloc should not have been allowed to stand in the polls.The commission, charged with preventing former members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party from returning to public life, said it would appeal to the IHEC to have the six barred from parliament.
Allawi also complained this week that Tehran was "interfering" in the political process to try to block his path by holding talks with all of Iraq's major political groups except his secular Iraqiya bloc.Senior figures from al-Maliki's State of Law Alliance and other major Iraqi blocs have visited the Iranian capital since the polls, but no official from Iraqiya is known to have travelled to Tehran.
Iran denied it was meddling in Iraqi politics, with a foreign ministry spokesman telling state radio on Wednesday that efforts by Iraqi parties "to form the next government are an internal matter, and they will obviously do that according to their electoral plans and without taking into account foreign interests".
"Iran does not interfere in this," he said, but added that Tehran was ready to "host Iraqi political movements to help with the formation of the new government as soon as possible".Whether Allawi or al-Maliki gets to be prime minister could hinge on a referendum planned by the movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Muslim religious leader.
Al-Sadr's movement emerged from the polls as the most powerful faction in the INA bloc that could help form a coalition government and Friday's referendum is to gauge support levels among its supporters for would-be prime ministers, including al-Maliki and Allawi.
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 6:31 AM 0 comments Links to this post Shiites begin talks to form coalition By Duraid Al Baik
Major Shiite groups are in talks to form a bigger coalition ahead of the first meeting of the newly-elected parliament in 10 days.According to reports, talks are under way between the representatives from the State of Law bloc, led by the outgoing prime minister Nouri Al Maliki and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA).
The State of Law bloc, the second largest group with 89 seats, is mainly formed from Dawa Party, while the INA, an alliance of three Shiite groups, is an offshoot of Dawa Party with Ebrahim Al Jaafari, Ammar Al Hakim of the Higher Islamic Council and Moqtada Al Sadr as its leaders.
Aides to incumbent Al Maliki on Monday met with Al Sadr in the Iranian city of Qom to discuss moves to form a coalition government.Al Jaafari, the former leader of Dawa, quit the party some two years ago because of Al Maliki's alleged dictatorial attitude.
As both blocs have strong ties with Iran, Al Jaafari might bow to a request from the Iranian leadership to patch up his differences with Al Maliki. Al Maliki was quoted as saying that he was willing to see the unification of Shiite ranks even if this meant to surrender the prime minister's post.
"Iran has thrown its full weight behind the line of negotiations amongst Shiite groups to ensure its influence in Iraqi politics. It sees the secular Shiite Eyad Allawi, who leads the Iraqiya, as a man who cannot be trusted due to his secular and political background. Iraqiya has a slim lead of two seats over the State of Law but Allawi was subjected to slander because Sunnis with Baathist background voted for him," Dr Ahmad Jalal Hussain, head of the Iraqi Arab Research Centre in Baghdad, has been quoted as saying.
He said the situation is dangerous at the moment and it is not fair to deny Allawi his legitimate right to form a government.Dr Hussain said bending the law to allow the formation of alliances after the election as per the Supreme Court decision was a bad move now. Such alliances will have serious impact on the security of the country, he added.
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 6:31 AM 0 comments Links to this post Maliki loses election, represses opponents By John Catalinotto
Contradicting all claims of having held a "fair election" in Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is using the repressive state apparatus constructed under the U.S. occupation regime to attempt to hold onto power by force. Al-Maliki has targeted four elected representatives of the victorious Al-Iraqiyya list in an attempt to downgrade this party to second place.
Two of the representatives are in hiding. One is in prison. The fourth, a woman, has disappeared from sight, according to a March 28 investigative article in the McClatchy newspapers.
Al-Maliki has said he won’t accept the vote count from the January election. These results were finally made public in late March. Al-Iraqiyya, whose leader is Ayad Allawi, won the most seats, 91, but not a majority of the 325-seat parliament. The "State of Law Coalition," led by al-Maliki, won 89 seats. The National Iraqi Alliance came in third with 70 seats.
During the election campaign, the regime banned 499 candidates for allegedly being linked to the Ba’ath Party, which was the ruling party before the U.S. invasion. All the banned candidates were from secular parties not connected with one or another religious sect.
No one should forget that there are still nearly 100,000 U.S. troops occupying Iraq — and almost the same number of mercenaries, called contractors. The seven-year-long U.S. occupation has led to the death of an estimated 1 million Iraqis and the dislocation of another 5 million, about one-fifth of the country. The occupation has also fomented bitter sectarian fighting among Iraqis.
Workers World consulted on the election with Joachim Guilliard, a German anti-war activist, writer and key organizer of the German Iraq Coordination. Guilliard has contributed to two books about Iraq. He testified in New York at the August 2004 people’s tribunal organized by the International Action Center, which found the U.S. guilty of war crimes for its invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In Guilliard’s opinion: "Many found it surprising that the opposition Al-Iraqiyya List won the most seats in parliament. But this was no proof that the vote was fair. It took place once again under the conditions of a brutal occupation regime that carried out expulsions of candidates, mass imprisonments and the murder of political opponents.
"Al-Iraqiyya won not because of the repression and manipulation of votes, but despite them. Apparently these repressive steps brought a large sector of the enemies of the occupation behind this electoral alliance that had the best outlook for victory" over the current occupation regime.
Explaining the election results, Guilliard wrote: "The Western media like to personalize everything, and so in general they speak of the victory of Ayad Allawi. But above all it was the most nationalist and overwhelmingly secular groups and personalities in the list who were voted in."
Guilliard pointed out that Allawi was once a close U.S. ally and co-responsible for the bloody invasion of the city of Fallujah, but that many Iraqis who oppose the occupation appeared to get behind al-Iraqiyya anyway in order to work toward removing the U.S. troops.
"On his own, the former interim premier and CIA collaborator Allawi would have been hardly more attractive than he was in 2005, when in alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party [which collaborates with the occupation — WW] he was only able to obtain 8.2 percent of the votes," Guilliard added.
The most progressive thing the vote represents, wrote Guilliard in his article in the March 29 issue of Junge Welt, a progressive German daily, is "the clear rejection of a policy that bases itself on religious and confessional differences and a clear vote for a unitary, centrally ruled and independent government. Al-Iraqiyya won votes not only in the majority Sunni provinces, but, for example, also in Baghdad, where the great majority belong to the Shiite confession, but are traditionally overwhelmingly non-religious in their politics."
Guilliard emphasized that "whoever is the new head of government in the next couple of months, the power still lies in the hands of the occupying forces."