Iraq "In Absolute Poverty"
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
-- Up to eight million Iraqis require immediate
emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in
"absolute poverty", according to a report by Oxfam and a
coalition of Iraqi groups.
About four million people are lacking food and "in dire need
of different types of humanitarian assistance", said the
report, released in Amman on Monday.
"Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter,
water and sanitation, health care, education, and
employment," said the report, compiled by Oxfam and the NGO
Co-ordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI).
The report also says two million people within the country
are currently displaced, while more than two million are
Most of those refugees have fled to Jordan and Syria.
Said Arikit, a spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq, told Al
Jazeera the report painted a "grim picture".
"Many of the figures and percentages in the report were
actually derived from UN sources… so we concur with the
findings," he said.
"The government of Iraq is definitely the authority in Iraq
and it bears responsibility for the welfare of its people."
Iraqi services have been left in crisis as most of those
seeking refuge are professionals, according to the report.
"The 'brain drain' that Iraq is experiencing is further
stretching already inadequate public services, as thousands
of medical staff, teachers, water engineers, and other
professionals are forced to leave the country," it said.
The entry of Iraqi refugees to neighbouring countries has
placed a growing strain on health, education and social
services in the two countries.
Only 60 per cent of the four million people who depend on
food assistance have access to rations from the
government-run public distribution system, down from 96 per
cent in 2004, the report said.
The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water
supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since
The lack of effective sanitation was also highlighted by the
joint report, which said 80 per cent of people in Iraq did
not have safe access.
The report said children were the hardest hit by the fall in
living standards, stating child malnutrition rates have
risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to
28 percent currently.
"Despite the constraints imposed by the government of Iraq,
the UN and the international donors can do more to deliver
humanitarian assistance to reduce unnecessary suffering,"
the report said.
One recommendation called for the government of Nuri al-Maliki,
Iraq's prime minister, to decentralise the distribution of
aid to local authorities, and make it easier for civil
society organisations to operate.
Meanwhile in Iraq, officials from the US military say they
have seen a drop in US troop deaths in July.
In April, the number of US soldiers who died was 104,
increased sharply in May when 126 servicemen died, and
decreased slightly with 101 troops dead in June.
For the month of July, at least 69 US soldiers have died,
about half the casualties in May.
Iraq's police say the number of civilian deaths also
decreased by 36 per cent, from an estimated high of 1,900 in
May to 1,342 in June.
General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, said: "The
sheikhs and the tribes and the leaders have banded together
and made a decision to oppose al-Qaeda and that has resulted
in a substantially improved security situation."
Despite what appears to be at least a temporary let-up in
both military and civilian deaths, many say there will be no
security without a stable Iraqi government.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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