Half a Million Displaced Iraqis Face Grim Future In Squalid Squatter Camps

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Bob26003, May 30, 2010.

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  1. Bob26003

    Bob26003 Well-Known Member

    at least they can eat freedom fries now.

    Half a Million Displaced Iraqis Face Grim Future In Squalid Squatter Camps
    Iraq's illegal squatter settlements are spreading so rapidly, one senior UN official considers homelessness "the greatest humanitarian problem facing Iraq."
    May 27, 2010

    The alarming spread of illegal squatter settlements has aid groups fearful of a looming social crisis, one which a senior United Nations official considers "the greatest humanitarian problem facing Iraq."

    Recent reports from two international agencies found that of Iraq's 1.5 million internally displaced people, or IDPs, at least 500,000 have been forced to dwell in squalid squatter camps without access to health care or public services.

    The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, has recorded a sharp increase in squatters since 2009, and activists are demanding the United States and UN stem the problem before it surges out of control.

    "We registered 160,000 [squatters] in Baghdad a year ago and this March the number was up to 260,000. This is only for Baghdad, we haven't published figures for the whole country yet but it's at least up from 400,000 to 500,000 for the time being," Daniel Endres, Iraq representative of UNHCR, said.

    Interviews by IWPR confirmed the rising numbers of squatter settlements and found that conditions in the camps continue to deteriorate as numbers swell. Although IDPs who fled their homes due to war and sectarian conflict have long been a problem in Iraq, many who spoke to IWPR said they had sheltered in camps due to extreme poverty and joblessness.

    "The problem appears to be growing for a number of new reasons, among them the drought and the many people who have lost their livelihoods. We have also found that many refugees who returned recently from other countries have ended up in camps," Endres said.

    "The guiding principles of defining an IDP are broad: you don't have to be displaced just by war to be an IDP. It can be any event that has thrown you out of your normal life and created a destitute or unlivable situation."

    The type of settlement that constitutes a squatter camp is also loosely defined. According to humanitarian groups, the term generally refers to anyone residing on land which they have no title or permission to live on.

    The larger camps occupy public land, government buildings and former military compounds in Baghdad; the biggest of these is the heaving al-Rasheed camp, a former base for Saddam Hussein's army, in which thousands of families live on roughly roughly 1,200 hectares of land.

    Other large encampments are expanding on the outskirts of the Kadhemiya district in north Baghdad, and Karada in the city's southern fringe. The Sadr City area is home to several sprawling squatter settlements.

    Yet other camps continue to spring up, some are large while others consist of small groups of families huddled in makeshift shelters of cloth, mud and scrap metal on empty or abandoned lots. To the displeasure of city officials, some of Baghdad's parks, parking lots and even traffic islands have become impoverished tent communities.

    In Diyala province, which experienced one of the greatest population upheavals, thousands of families have built shelters on or near their homes which were destroyed by war. Even in the relatively stable Kurdistan region, camps for IDPs and jobless migrants can be found near the main cities.

    Continues......... http://www.alternet.org/world/14702...dium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=alternet_world
  2. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    What a mess the American government has created, yet again.
  3. chjones21

    chjones21 Well-Known Member

    I wonder what the answer to this is.

    I read recently of a huge debate about UNHCR and whether refugee camps in fact exacerbate problems rather than solve them. The point was made that in 1945 and after the UK had huge influxes of refugees coming into the country - a country that had ration cards still, huge returning population of war-weary and all sorts of other problems - yet, we did NOT "contain" this refugee population in separated camps. The refugees were simply dumped into the system with a "sink or swim" attitude. And to be fair, most swum - very successfully building up huge hotel empires for example!

    Albert Einstein (from your quote) was a refugee himself, too. I wonder whether interfering in man's natural ability to be able to make something out of nothing - helps. Taking away that drive and replacing it with a dependence on "aid", is that a good thing? Is that not somewhat soul-destroying, along with really disproportionately imbalancing the economy.

    The article mentioned people buying mosquito nets for Africans - all sounds lovely, except that those more productive Africans who had been selling mosquito nets - now, can't sell anything at all because everything is being given for free. Same with grain - free grain brought in from the US or other Western countries.... how does that help people and farmers who are working to try to create an economy in their own country? It doesn't help them, it ruins them and they become another addition to the refugee camp!

    As the article pointed out, if you wish to feed the Africans - at least BUY the grain off African farmers rather than American or European ones!!!

    I wonder whether the MOST humanitarian thing UNHCR could do (although of course it won't because the Aid business is a huge conglomerate and like most conglomerates seeks to protect its raison d'etre) would be to pack up and go away.

    But I don't know anything too much about it. Helping yourself is key, I think. I look at places like Serbia who simply seemed after their war to say "we'll SHOW you! we don't want your help, we don't want anything from ANYONE - we'll do it ourselves, thanks" and although I myself have not visited there, I hear that they have pretty much rebuilt their entire country, infrastructure and economy.

    There is a lot to be said for telling people who "just want to help" to kindly butt out.
  4. pit

    pit Well-Known Member

    I say let them squat. Maybe the flexibility they get in their backbones from doing this will lead to flexibility in their rigid, ridiculously religious thinking.

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