Widely Ignored By Press: A 'Surge' in Iraqi Displaced Citizens

By: E&P Staff The plight -- and massive number -- of refugees and displaced citizens in Iraq has been one of the great under-reported aspects of the war. Perhaps that will change in the wake of a report by the Iraqi Red Crescent today.

The leading humanitarian group in Iraq says the number of internally displaced people (IDP's) in Iraq has quadrupled since January and is up eight times from a year ago.

It had found in May 2006 that there were 125,169. For May 2007 it counts 1,024,430, with 37% of them children. Health care is limited.

"Rape, armed gangs, theft, drug addiction was a common place among IDP, " the report states. "The overall picture is that of a human tragedy unprecedented in Iraq's history."

A summary on the IraqSlogger.com site observes, "Many IDP's take refuge in the house of extended family or a friend, while others squat illegally in abandoned houses. Many live on the streets or in makeshift mud huts and tin shacks, and tens of thousands of others live in tent cities." The report reveals that the province with the greatest number of IDP's is Ninevah (Mosul area), with 239,547, followed by Baghdad, with 196,227.

In addition, more than two million Iraqis are estimated to have fled Iraq for Syria, Jordan and other countries.

More from the report:

"Displacement resulted in major changes in the population demography. The education sector was negatively affected by the flow of the displaced people into the different governorates. Schools witnessed significant increase in the number of students in each classroom. Many schools are operating in two shifts to accommodate the growing number of students. There is also shortage in educational materials and stationary. These factors contributed to decreased quality of education in the host communities.

"Shelter is a major problem. While some families dwelled with relatives, other families sheltered in government buildings. Those who got sheltered in government buildings are being exposed to mortar attacks and suffer from lack of essential services, food, water and electricity. In addition, there is the risk of unexploded ordinance or bombs in these buildings. It is important to mention these IDP could be evicted at any time.

"The IDP have limited access to health care. The lack of health care coupled with the increasing needs is having serious effects on the life of women and children. Pregnant women, infants and children are unable to get the required medical care and criminal abortion became the norms."

"The psychological wellbeing of the IDP is another major concern. The horrors of daily killings and explosions have a serious impact on the children and the women. Some IDP families took refuge with armed groups as they represented the true authority of the land for them. Some teenagers who lost loved ones joined the armed groups and started taking revenge from innocent people from different ethnic groups."


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