Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The internally displaced

AFP reports, "The siege of the jihadist-held Iraqi city of Fallujah and the 50,000 civilians believed trapped inside it is a catastrophe in the making, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned on Tuesday."

'Liberating' a city with no concern for its citizens.

NRC issued a press release this morning which notes:

“Families are calling for help. We just want to leave the city, we just want to leave it,” says Um Ahmed (40) in a rare phone conversation from inside the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

For months now, Fallujah has been under siege, cut off from aid and essential supplies, but since Iraqi forces launched the military operation to retake the city, up to 50,000 civilians are feared to be trapped and risk getting caught in the crossfire.

“The stocks in the hospitals are running low. There is no medicine for ordinary people. Instead of providing adequate treatment, doctors often simply amputate a patient’s arms or legs if they are in pain. There is no anesthetic left in the hospitals,” says Um Ahmed, who is trapped inside Fallujah together with his family. For months, the residents of the city have been coping with food shortages, lack of electricity, and hospitals have run out of medical supplies to treat the wounded.

“Food is scarce and we have mostly been relying on dates for our meals. Sometimes we burn wood to grill some aubergines over the fire for lunch. The price of vegetables has gone up in the city as a result of the food shortages. It has been seven months since we had sugar or rice. There’s a family who has been giving goats’ milk to their new-born baby, as baby milk is not available,” Ahmed testifies about the critical situation for thousands of civilians in Fallujah.

Not enough drinking water

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is in contact with the people who are trapped inside Fallujah. No families are known to have fled the centre of the city since Monday 23 May. 554 families have managed to escape the areas surrounding the city center and reached displacement camps. The families who arrived over the weekend came from Jumeila, on the outskirts of Fallujah.

“Last night we’ve had the highest number of displaced families reaching us so far. Our resources in the camps are now very strained. With many more expected to flee we might not be able to provide enough drinking water for everyone,” says Nasr Muflahi, NRC’s Country Director in Iraq.

The refugees of Ramadi remain internally displaced.  Such will be the case for those displaced from Falluja.  It's a huge problem.

Unless you read the western reporting and its breathless 'they're almost in the city!' nonsense 'reports' of troop movements -- about as valuable as recording bowel movements.

An article at Chatham House notes:

Overshadowed by the paranoia engendered by refugee flows, the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) - those who are displaced but remain within the state - receives little coverage. In Iraq, internal displacement is a chronic problem. Iraq has been in the top ten countries with the largest displaced populations every year since 2003. Some 11 per cent of its population of 37 million is currently displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Despite the scale of the problem, Iraq's politicians' focus remains elsewhere, as a deepening economic and political crisis has taken hold across the country. The costs of the campaign against ISIS combined with the collapse of the global oil price, upon which Iraq's budget so heavily relies, has led to a budget deficit that could rise to $17 billion by the end of 2016.

The political focus is now worse than 'elsewhere.'    ALSUMARIA reports that today is the last legislative day for Parliament and that it is now going into recess until July.

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