IRAQ: Dozens of families flee clashes in Sadr City
BAGHDAD, 8 April 2008 (IRIN) - Dozens of families are fleeing clashes in Baghdad's largest slum - Sadr City - to seek shelter in nearby neighbourhoods, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and residents.
"We have registered displacement among the residents of Sadr City since yesterday [7 April] but we have no specific numbers as all these families are seeking shelter with relatives in nearby neighbourhoods," said Ammar Abdul-Sattar Mohammed, a volunteer with the IRCS mission in Sadr City.
"All these families are leaving their homes on foot without taking anything with them; most are leaving one or two family members behind to protect property. But it is not yet considered a major displacement," Mohammed told IRIN.
The clashes are between government forces (backed by US troops) and the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia loyal to radical leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
With regard to humanitarian assistance, Mohammed said IRCS teams "are working hard to meet the needs of the local hospitals by providing them with medicines and medical items whenever they feel it is safe for them [the aid teams] to move".
Since 25 March, the suburbs of Sadr City and Shula have been the scene of fierce fighting, prompting the authorities to impose tight security measures, including a ban on cars.
Despite an order on 5 April by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to ease security restrictions in the two Shia militia strongholds, doctors and medical staff are still unable to operate normally in these suburbs.
"We are fed up with the fighting and deteriorated public services since 25 March. There is no water, no electricity, and food and vegetables are hard to get, while prices are soaring," said Jamal Hussein Nasser, a Sadr City resident who fled with his 15-member family to nearby Shaab area.
"There are almost round-the-clock shootings, mortar rounds, explosions and sniper-fire from both sides. We were happy when Saddam Hussein was toppled and thought our life would get better but unfortunately Saddam was better," Nasser said.
The clashes in Sadr City on 8 April left 15 civilians injured when government forces tried to re-enter the suburb, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs
Copyright © IRIN 2008
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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