Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fading hope in Iraq

In the latest edition of Newsweek, featured online on MSNBC, Lorraine Ali reflected on the story of her Iraqi family members still in Baghdad. “Baghdad was once home to one of the most educated populaces in the Middle East,” Ali claimed. However, due to the violence, the middle class, which is considered the least-sectarian slice of society, is quickly draining out of the country at an alarming rate, she said

“Those cousins who have made it out of Iraq alive are part of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world,” Ali said. An estimated 2.3 million Iraqis have fled since the 2003 invasion. About 500,000 flee Baghdad each month. There are also an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced persons in Iraq.

Though fear of the violence keeps families indoors, often without much food for extended periods, the cost of leaving is more than many families can handle. To obtain the new travel passports, bribes of around $2,000 would need to be paid. And the cost of a driver ranges from $250-600 per passenger. Even those who are fortunate enough to cross the border must live in loneliness among a disgruntled host community, without the majority of their possessions and often without work, with an increasingly higher cost of living.

For Ali’s family, and others, some hope remains. “U.S. and Iraqi troops have set up more bases throughout Baghdad to quell sectarian fighting, and the number of anonymous bodies found each morning with gunshot wounds, drill holes and missing limbs has declined drastically in recent weeks,” Ali said. Continuing violence and atrocious living conditions might suggest otherwise though. Ali’s uncle commented, “Saddam was bad, but this? There is no clean water, people are killing each other like the animal, and I can’t even go to the mosque to discuss this with God.”

For the full article, click here.


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