Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A glimpse of the UN report on Iraq

I do not spend a lot of time watching US television outside of a late-night channel surf, but I haven't heard a word on the recently-released US report, much less seen anything in print. Le Monde, on the other hand, has a synopsis of the damning report.

Insecurity, poverty and no rule of law: The devastating UN report on Iraq
LE MONDE | 26.04.07 | 14h57

On Wednesday 25 April United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) presented a devastating picture of the situation in Iraq, contradicting the claims of Nuri al-Maliki’s government that violence had declined in Iraq recently since the launch on February 14th of the “Security Plan” for Baghdad. In a report coving the period between 1 January to 30 March, UNAMI points out the deficiencies of the Maliki in defending human rights and restoring the rule of law, while it acknowledges the tremendous difficulties that continue to dog official efforts. It also paints a dire portrait of the humanitarian situation, which recalls the suffering of the Iraqi people when, under the dictatorship, the country was subjected to an extremely harsh international embargo that lasted 12 years.

The Iraqi government immediately rejected the report, saying that it had major reservations and deplored “the approximation and the lack of credibility with respect to several points" –which it does not identify– as well as the use of “unreliable sources”.

UNAMI refrains from declaring victims of violence for the period covered by the report, because, it underscores, the government refused to supply the needed data with the excuse that UNAMI had exaggerated the number of human lives lost in its previous report. But those figures had be supplied by the Ministry of Health and the Coroner’s Association.. Nonetheless, based on observations from its teams and testimony and meetings with the victims, UNAMI writes a damning report.

The number of civilian dead is extremely high, especially around the capital, Baghdad. Intimidation of the population continues as politicians interfere in judicial matters. The geographic cleavages along communitarian lines are growing wider. Ethnic and religious minorities are victims of intolerance. Freedom of expression is increasingly muzzled and women's rights ridiculed. These are only a few examples of the grievous shortcomings revealed by UNAMI (which does not spare the Kurdish regions), tasked to assist the Iraqi government in promoting human rights.

The most troubling report, drawn from sources with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), concerns the humanitarian situation. Some 8 million Iraqis are in a vulnerable situation and require immediate assistance, says UNAMI. Two million have sought refuge outside the country and another two million are displaced within Iraq. The extreme vulnerability of four million other Iraqis derives from lack of food, the escalation in violence, the lack of basis services, rampant inflation and unemployment.

More than half of Iraqis (54%) live on less than a dollar a day and 15% of them have been reduced to extreme poverty, having to get along with 50 cents a day to meet their daily needs. In July 2006, the rate of inflation was 70% and unemployment 60%. Only 32% of Iraqi have access to potable water. Hospitals and clinics cruelly lack medicine and equipment. 12,000 of the 34,000-strong medical community have left the country and another 250 of them kidnapped and 2,000 murdered since 2003.

More than 700,000 Iraqis were forced to move following the attack on a Shi’ite place of veneration in Samara on February 22, 2006 which unleashed confessional violence. Hundreds of families have had to move several times. Three-quarters of the displaced are women and children. Most displaced persons do not have access to elementary services such as electric power, clean water and medical care.

Mouna Naïm

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