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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IRAQ: Number of displaced increases in Arbil

ARBIL, 26 February 2007 (IRIN) - Every day more and more people are abandoning their homes in central Iraq and moving to the country’s northern areas, according to officials. Many are settling in the less violent northern city of Arbil, the one million-strong capital of Kurdistan.

“By the end of 2006, we had registered 6,000 displaced families,” said Emad Maroof Jameel, Head of Disaster Management Coordination in the Arbil branch of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

Jameel said that the increase in the number of the displaced arriving in Arbil in recent weeks has been phenomenal. Within 15 days, from 15 November to 1 December 2006, the Red Crescent registered 434 displaced families. At present, the total number of displaced families is estimated to be between 7,000 and 8,000 – and the number is increasing.

Officials blame sectarian violence for the increasing numbers fleeing to central Iraq.

A displaced Sunni Muslim living in Arbil told IRIN on condition of anonymity that Shia militia attacked his village near Baghdad. Some of his relatives were killed, some imprisoned and others escaped. In addition, he said their life there was becoming increasingly difficult because Shia owners were firing Sunnis from their jobs and replacing them with other Shias.

The displaced Sunni said that life in Arbil was not easy as Kurdistan’s regional government would not provide them with housing, health care and jobs. He was, however, satisfied with the better security there.

“We are victims of a civil war. This really is a civil war. I get about US $15 a day and pay $8.50 a day for housing. But I don’t have enough to go to a doctor. Right now, I am sick,” he said.

Abu Ibrahim fled to Arbil with his wife and five children. He is satisfied with conditions in Arbil and his children are enjoying being back in school.

“I am working with a private employer and my children have been accepted in school. We’re praying for the wellbeing of all Iraqis. I hope that peace will be restored and that whenever we are able to go back home our problems will be solved,” he said.

The Red Crescent’s Jameel said they do not have camps for displaced people, although initially they provided them with first aid, shelter and food.

“We coordinate with Arbil Governorate for refugee issues. They have opened two Arabic schools in Arbil, one in Ainkawa [just north of Arbil] and the other in 100 Meteri Street,” Jameel said.

He added that the displaced are not provided with housing. Some of them live in villages with their relatives and others have rented houses in Arbil. The government also does not provide the displaced with employment.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



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