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Displaced from 2003 still homeless, say analysts

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 article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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