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Internally Displaced Iraqis Lack Basic Needs


A report by the International Organization for Migration finds most of the 1.6 million Iraqis who were forced to flee their homes in the wake of the 2006 bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra still lack the most basic needs. IOM surveyed nearly 224,000 internally displaced families in Iraq's 18 governorates.

It has been 3.5 years since the bombing of the mosque triggered one of the worst displacement crises in recent times. Although security in Iraq has improved during this time, apparently the lives of most of these homeless people have not.

The International Organization for Migration says shelter, food and employment remain the most pressing needs of most of the more than 1.5 million people displaced by the bombing.

For example, the IOM study finds 58 percent of the IDP families in Diyala and 60 percent in Baghdad are without a source of income. And, these families, says IOM are in a relatively comfortable situation compared to those displaced elsewhere.

The report notes unemployment figures among IDP families are significantly higher in the other governorates with those in Kirkuk, Quadissiya, Basrah and Wassit the worst affected.

IOM Spokeswoman, Jemini Pandya, says the unemployment figures there are staggeringly high.

"In some of the governorates, 99 percent of displaced families have not a single member working, without any source of income, which is in turn having a huge impact on their ability to afford rented accommodation and their ability to buy food in a country where the public distribution system is failing quite badly," she said.

IOM monitors in Anbar province report increasing numbers of children are leaving school to help support their families through begging, petty trade or doing odd jobs. They say a majority of people are afraid of being thrown out of their homes because rents are rising and they do not have the money to keep pace with this.

The study says female-headed households have a particularly tough time. This is because women have difficulty advocating for themselves and their children. In Baghdad, it finds more than 90 percent of female-headed households have no one employed outside the home.

The IOM investigators say they have reports that IDP women are particularly vulnerable to becoming involved in prostitution and trafficking just in order to survive.

The report says food is a big concern for most of the displaced and water too is emerging as a growing problem. It says in some places, a majority of displaced people get their water from rivers, lakes or streams and this is posing a major health risk.

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