Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Three years of instability and war have created a massive number of homeless in Iraq. The main reason for terrible living conditions for thousands of Iraqis is that many houses have been destroyed over years of conflict in the country. The country's housing problem dates back to previous conflicts, but has been exacerbated by the current war, insurgency and instability in the recent past. The numbers of homes destroyed goes up daily and very little is investested in housing.

The report below is from IRIN.

Displaced in 2003, still homeless

BAGHDAD - Local aid agencies warn that families displaced immediately following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 still remain homeless.

"We urge international aid agencies to help us support the displaced, especially in terms of food and shelter," said Waleed Rashdi, a spokesman for the Aid Agencies Association in Iraq. "Because all the aid is now being sent to the recently-displaced, while other groups are suffering seriously."

Dina Abou Samra, a Middle East analyst at the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) agreed with this assessment. "The media has focused much attention on those displaced within the last weeks [victims of sectarian violence]," she said. "But it's urgent that the needs of many other groups of displaced people are also addressed." She went on to say that such people - many of whom have remained homeless for almost three years - be provided with shelter, food and access to clean water and health services.

According to experts, the reasons for the large-scale displacements are myriad. "Displacement has been caused by spontaneous returns [of large ethnic populations to certain areas], general insecurity and sectarian violence," said Abou Samra. "Also, many refugees returning to Iraq are becoming internally displaced, due to reasons like insecurity and the lack of housing and basic services."

Meanwhile, displacement experts say that ongoing sectarian violence has contributed to the increase in the number of displaced families.

The recently-displaced people are primarily located in the provinces of Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Najaf and Karbala. According to reports the split between displaced Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs is about 50:50 but they are moving in different directions with the vast majority of Shi'a heading south and Sunnis tending to move to the west and north.

"It's estimated that there are more than one million internally displaced people in Iraq today," said NRC's Dina Abou Samra. "This is in addition to the estimated 100,000 people newly displaced last month."

"To this number we must also add all the people trying to flee to neighbouring countries, for whom there are no official statistics," said NCCI spokesman Cedric Turlan. "There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in Jordan and Syria, and it seems that Egypt has also begun taking in large numbers."

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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