Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Study finds 50,000 more Iraqis displaced since July

(AFP) - The number of people displaced in Iraq has increased by about 50,000 to 2.25 million since July, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday. The IOM's new data for mid-September includes some 1,058,424 people who fled their homes since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006 sparked the latest upsurge in Iraq's sectarian violence, the IOM noted.
Shiites make up some 65 percent of the displaced, while 31 percent are Sunnis and 4 percent Christian, according to an IOM survey of 114,732 families. "The majority of the displaced assessed are renting substandard shelter or are staying with friends of family, placing new burdens on host communities," the IOM said in its latest "Emergency Needs Assessments" report on Iraq.
The problem is compounded by many provinces now restricting entry and registration of displaced persons, and by the decision of Iraq's neighbors, Syria and Jordan, to impose visa requirements in order to stem the flow of refugees, it added. The organization's latest review did cite some progress in parts of Baghdad and the western province of Anbar but warned that it was by no means uniform or certain to continue.
Increased security, particularly in the capital, is the central aim of US President George W. Bush's "surge" strategy, which has come under heavy attack in recent weeks. "Some areas, such as Anbar and parts of Baghdad, have seen improved security and therefore decreased displacement," the IOM said in the report. However, people do continue to be displaced in the capital and often for a myriad reason of localized political factors, it said.
In Anbar Province, the IOM said there had been a stabilization in the number of displaced people since January, with "waves" of inhabitants returning coming to its capital, Ramadi, due to better security. A coalition of 42 Sunni tribes has joined with US forces in their fight against Al-Qaeda in Iraq since last year under the umbrella heading of the Anbar Rescue Council. The alliance is credited with helping improve security, but it suffered a grave blow last week after insurgents killed key US ally Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha.

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