Iraq Today: Afflicted by Violence, Devastation, Corruption, and Desperation - by Stephen Lendman
Seven years under occupation, Iraqis still cope with what Refugees International calls "a dire humanitarian crisis that sees huge numbers of displaced (and other Iraqis) struggl(ing) to survive," a situation "for which the US bears special responsibility" but does nothing to correct.
Recent UNHCR figures estimate around 4.5 million refugees, nearly 2.8 million internal ones (IDPs), a third of these in squatter slums in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah al-Din. Many fear returning home. Most are impoverished. Settlements lack basic services, including water, sanitation, electricity, and health care. Education is difficult where available.
Camps are built in precarious places - under bridges, alongside railroad tracks, and near garbage dumps. In 2009, they were ordered to vacate. They remain. The directive was postponed, but they fear eviction with nowhere else to go, and little help for their needs and welfare.
Most get no government, US, UN or NGO aid given security's top priority. "The zero-risk mentality of the burgeoning security industry has hijacked more rational and creative thinking" to provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance.
As a result, the occupation grinds on while conditions deteriorate, "3,000 new individuals registering for refugee status each month," adding to a growing crisis. They lack proper shelter, food, health care and other essentials, living day to day fearing greater misery, disease or death.
In February 2010, the International Rescue Commission (IRC) issued a report titled, "A Tough Road Home" on uprooted Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Iraq, saying since last visiting the region in February 2008:
"the needs of displaced Iraqis have become more acute, while international concern and assistance have diminished. In particular, assistance from European countries has begun to fall off," given concern for their own situation at home.
For their part, refugees and IDP's fear returning, citing persistent violence, insecurity, and little access to housing, other services, and jobs as well as mistrusting the Americans, puppet government, and fearing persecution.
Conditions for IDPs are precarious, international law guaranteeing no protection, nor can they get economic aid or the right to work where they live. They desperately want to go home, rebuild their lives, but need safe and stable conditions to do it as well as resolution of property disputes to allow it.
External refugees also want to return. Others fear persecution and won't, but sustainable reintegration structures and basic services don't exist, and no plans are in place to institute them. As a result, millions of Iraqis remain scattered internally, in neighboring Syria and Jordan, and other countries, trapped in poverty, fear, and uncertainty under worsening conditions.
Like IDPs, external refugees face an ongoing struggle to survive without reliable incomes or safety. Besides lost loved ones, property and savings, they're traumatized, see no end to their suffering, and feel hopeless, frustrated and desperate.
In his March 15 article titled, "The New 'Forgotten' War," Dahr Jamail noted Afghanistan getting most attention while the "Iraq occupation falls into media shadows," except briefly after significant violent events killing dozens or a prominent figure.
Yet hundreds die most months. Millions have been killed, irrepararably harmed, and displaced - victims of genocide.
Essential services are spotty or nonexistent, and persistent depravation on October 11, 2009 got Iraqis in Baghdad streets to chant, "No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers," according to AP.
Exacerbating conditions, including a four year long draught "plagues most of Iraq. In the country's north," AP, on October 13, 2009, reported inadequate water "forced more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes since 2005, with 36,000 more on the verge of leaving."