GENEVA, March 7 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency on Friday said the continuing fighting in western Iraq's Anbar province has forced thousands more people to move to safety. Those affected are in various locations across the province, moving westwards from previously safe locations.
"During the last week the number of displaced people in the town of Heet and surrounding areas – which lies to the northwest of [the city of] Ramadi – has increased by some 25,000-30,000 people," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.
Elsewhere in Anbar, an inter-agency mission this week by UNHCR, the World Food Programme and the UN Children's Fund assessed the living conditions and the needs of displaced people living in Al-Obaidy, some 450 kilometres northwest of Baghdad in the Al Qaim area.
Due to the poor security situation, the mission was forced to postpone part of their assessment. Al Qaim district hosts some 5,000 Syrian refugees, some 2,000 of them are in camp Al Obaidy while others are in host communities. The team met with people displaced to temporary houses and two collective shelters in Al-Obaidy town.
The team members identified many with specific needs, particularly female-headed households with large numbers of children. In one home, three female-headed families were cramped together in one small house with 13 children.
While the local communities have generously assisted the displaced, people are still in need of food and health care. Families living in unfinished houses lack blankets, mattresses, cooking facilities and clothing. As an immediate step, UNHCR is distributing aid packs to 300 families the team visited.
"The humanitarian needs of the displaced are growing rapidly. Prolonged displacement is putting pressure on both the displaced and host communities as they begin to exhaust their resources," Edwards said.
UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are receiving an increasing number of requests for humanitarian assistance and support. UNHCR and partners are continuing to conduct assessments of the humanitarian needs. At present the shortage of shelter remains one of the most pressing issues.
Close to Baghdad, the city of Fallujah remains under siege, the roads remain closed and there are reports of shortages of fuel, food and other basic items. Armed clashes have been reported in the north, south and east of Fallujah, even during a 72-hour ceasefire initiated by the government of Iraq last week.
The situation in Ramadi is also volatile. Shelling and clashes have continued in recent days in the city and in rural neighbourhoods. As the situation deteriorates in the Al-Malab, Al-Bothaib and 20th Street areas, small groups of residents have fled and headed to Heet. The local council in Heet is still welcoming those fleeing, despite the significant burden on the local infrastructure, lack of sufficient accommodation and overstretched services. The district already accommodates some 11,250 displaced families.
To the north-east of Anbar, the first UN humanitarian assistance has in the past few days reached some 200 displaced families living in dire conditions in Sulayman Beg, Salah Al-Din governorate. They fled clashes last week in the north-east of the governorate.
As of Thursday, the number of people displaced in Anbar and the other governorates of Iraq is approximately 380,000. This represents almost 64,000 families, some 42,000 of whom have been displaced in Anbar, the largest governorate in Iraq.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement and the UN launched a strategic response plan to address the immediate humanitarian needs of people affected by the fighting in Anbar. The plan calls for US$103.7 million to cover the provision of assistance to 240,000 internally displaced people as well as host communities and those stranded in conflict-affected areas.
UNHCR requires US$26.3 million to address humanitarian needs of people displaced by the crisis in Anbar over the next six months. These needs are 11 per cent funded.
Nouri risks the lives of innocent civilians as he pursues collective punishment. Collective punishment is legally defined as a War Crime. The United States government recognizes that definition. And yet the White House continues to arm the tyrant Nouri al-Maliki who then uses the weapons to attack the Iraqi people.
There's also Nouri's corruption. CNN reports on Thursday's incident where Nouri's Transportation Minister refused to allow a plane from Lebanon to land in Baghdad until it turned around, returned to Beirut, to pick up his son who'd missed the flight. Now that we're all on the same page, it should be pointed out the Nouri hasn't asked for the removal of the Transportation Minister (he can't fire him, only Parliament can). Most importantly, it should be noted that this is a 24 hour investigation tops. It's not that complicated. But it will most likely just vanish like all of Nouri's previous investigations.
Through yesterday, violence has killed 228 people in Iraq this month according to Iraq Body Count. Today:
National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 Khirbet Aziz Village roadside bombings left two Iraqi soldiers injured, an eastern Mosul roadside bombing left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three more injured, an Alakhsaf battle left 6 rebels dead, a suicide car bomber in Ramadi took his own life and the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers with four more left injured, a Baquba roadside bombing left three people injured, Joint Special Operations Command announced they killed 10 suspects in Falluja, a Tahrir roadside bombing left 1 person dead and two more injured, an al-Musayyib roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, a second Ramadi suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 7 police members, police Colonel Miqdad Abdul Rahman al-Izzi and his brother Lt Gen Mahmoud al-Izzi were shot dead in al-Yarkon Village, and, dropping back to late last night for the rest, 1 government official was shot dead in Khanaqin last night and a government employee left injured, and a Musayyib home bombing left five family members injured.
The following community sites -- plus Jake Tapper, Tavis Smiley, Cindy Sheehan, Ms. magazine's blog, Chocolate City, War News Radio, KPFK and Pacifica Evening News -- updated last night and today:
community gets a little better but mainly worse
17 hours ago
Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "STRIKES AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE PROTEST FIRINGS AND DEPORTATIONS" (Working, In These Times):
SAN LEANDRO AND EAST PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA, 2/26-7/14
For the last six months, community and labor activists-mostly young- have sat down in front of buses carrying people to detention centers for deportation. In Tucson, they obstructed and chained themselves to ICE vans. In San Francisco, a few days after blocking a bus carrying deportees to detention, "Dreamer" Ju Hong-a young immigrant whose deportation was deferred in the White House's executive action two years ago-challenged President Obama during a local speech. "You have the power to stop deportation," the protester told him.
In response to these actions and others like them, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have passed resolutions demanding a moratorium on deportations; San Francisco is imposing a halt in immigration-related firings as well.
And the pressure is only intensifying. Last week, unions and community organizations closed down an intersection in front of a Silicon Valley supermarket chain where hundreds were fired after an inspection by ICE of company personnel records (an I-9 audit), intended to identify undocumented workers for termination. The next day, immigrant recycling workers in one San Leandro, Calif. trash facility walked out of work when their employer and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency threatened their jobs in a similar audit.
These protests are a direct response to the deportations and firing that have intensified as a result of the Obama administration's immigration enforcement policies.
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national iraqi news agency