In February of 2006, insurgents blew up the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra touching off a wave of sectarian bloodletting and triggering a massive internal displacement of people in Iraq. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country altogether with most of them ending up in neighboring Jordan and Syria. Estimates of the number of Internally Displaced People (IDP) range from 1 to 2 million.
According to an Iraqi Red Crescent Organization (IRCO) report (provided to me courtesy of Iraq Slogger), the UNHCR estimates that the number of IDP to be increasing at a rate of 80,000-100,000 each month. If the current security plan that began in February succeeds, the UNHCR still expects that 40,000-50,000 people will be displaced every month. The chart below illustrates the growing magnitude of the building humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
|Number of IDP in Iraq|
More from the IRCO report:
Several factors contribute to the hardships and worsening situation of the Internally Displaced People. Firstly, people forcefully abandoned their homes as a result of the escalating military operations and the infighting between different political factions. Secondly, becoming displaced, they were un-welcomed in their new neighborhoods. Hosting communities fear job competition and draining of the already depleted resources. Thirdly, families left their homes and properties carrying with them few personal belongings, which resulted in increased poverty and vulnerability.
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.
At least 78% of the IDP are children and women. The men who were the bread winners are no longer part of the family. They either fled or joined armed groups. Most of the displaced women are uneducated and most of the men are elderly. This is becoming a serious social problem.
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.
As bad as the humanitarian crisis in Iraq has become it could get a lot worse in the coming months as the country continues its slide into all-out civil war. The US government should be taking proactive steps to help Iraqi refugees now rather than waiting until the situation deteriorates even further. If you want to help check out Refugees International.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!