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                            August 4, 2007

                     Shame on George Bush

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SHAME ON GEORGE W BUSH               
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A Rising Refugee Crisis (July 31, 2007)
The ongoing violence in Iraq has limited aid workers’ access to the most vulnerable communities.
UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes calls for more action and resources
to improve the plight of Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs).  

Where Have All The Doctors Gone? (July 25, 2007)
Iraq’s healthcare system continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Like many others in Iraq, the main
hospital in the city of Baquba offers free treatment but suffers from severe shortages of medicine, equipment
and doctors. In the face of costly private clinic services and the precarious security situation, ordinary
Iraqis struggle to get basic medical assistance. (Inter Press Service)

Crushing Iraq’s Human Mosaic (July 13, 2007)
The US-led war in Iraq has deepened ethno-religious tensions and further subjected Iraq’s minorities to
persecution. Members of Iraq’s smaller and lesser known communities, such as the Mandaeans, make
up a significant proportion of the two million Iraqis fleeing the violence. Iraqi councilman Hunain Qaddo
laments the exodus of the minority groups and the possible loss of “the value and culture of these people
who have enriched [Iraqi] society.” (BBC)

Iraq Exodus Fuels Rise in Refugees, Displaced (July 11, 2007)
The latest report by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) evaluates how well
countries observe asylum-seekers’ basic rights, including ensuring freedom of movement and providing
physical protection and economic assistance. The USCRI links the unrelenting violence in Iraq directly
to the burgeoning global refugee crisis. Iraqis constituted nearly half of the two million people worldwide
fleeing their homelands in 2006. (Inter Press Service)

Iraqis Bemoan Lack of Services in Long, Hot Summer (July 11, 2007)
With no electricity to run their air conditioners, a majority of Iraqi families seek refuge from the oppressive
heat indoors by sleeping on their flat rooftops – exposing themselves to the chronic violence. After four years
of war, Iraqis’ access to water, electricity and fuel has reached the lowest level in decades. Many attribute
the collapse of these most basic services to both government inefficiency and the intense fighting triggered
by the US occupation. (Reuters)

Have the Tigris and Euphrates Run Dry? (July 9, 2007)
Even as two of the largest rivers in the Middle East course through Iraq, the country’s once-thriving agricultural sector has suffered significantly. Faced with grave fuel and electricity shortages, Iraqi farmers cannot run generators to pump water for irrigating their crops. After a decade of crippling UN sanctions and more than four years of a US-led war, efforts to rebuild these vital services have largely failed due to corruption and mismanagement. (Inter Press Service)

Media Silence about the Carnage in Iraq (July 5, 2007)
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died violently at the hands of coalition forces. Yet mainstream media reports of the daily fighting in Iraq often only include “brief accounts of several different operations, none of them presented as major events.” This CounterPunch article warns that such coverage grossly understates the rate of non-combatant fatalities – a statistic that will likely escalate as the US military presence in Iraq expands.

Health Ministry Issues Warning on Waterborne Diseases (July 3, 2007)
The destruction of Iraq’s sewage and water networks has left most Iraqis with little access to clean drinking water – dealing a direct blow to the health of the population. Due to the inferior quality of the water supply, health officials expect a higher incidence of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, especially among young children and the elderly. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Military-Induced Displacement (July 2007)
Extensive US-led military operations such as aerial bombing have led to massive destruction of homes and sometimes entire communities in Iraq. Consequently, several hundred thousand Iraqis have fled their residences. Temporary displacement could develop into a long-term phenomenon as ongoing violence and a lack of compensation for losses prevent civilians from returning to their homes. (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre)

Civilian Casualties Rise in Iraq (June 18, 2007)
According to this Los Angeles Times article, US military officials concede that President George W. Bush’s plan for a US troop build-up in Iraq has led to “greater chances” of civilian casualties. Some attribute the soldiers’ killings of noncombatants to stress from the conflict and vengeance for the deaths of fellow servicemen. The escalating violence attests to the chaos stemming from the prolonged presence of US troops in Iraq.

Hundreds Go Missing or Get Killed at Checkpoints (June 6, 2007)
With a drastic increase of violence and disappearances at checkpoints in Baghdad , some citizens say they now fear checkpoints more than they fear explosions. Over a hundred Iraqis have gone missing after passing through checkpoints, which are run by Iraqi police, soldiers or insurgents. Many blame sectarian tension for the heightened insecurity at these alleged security posts, others argue that the problem lies with the security forces abusing their right to “arrest whomever they want." (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Years of War, Current Insecurity Take Toll on Environment (June 5, 2007)
Amatullah Ibrahim, a senior official in Iraq's Ministry of Environment, stated “that Iraq's environment had been totally forgotten and could well be the worst in the world today.” The dire environmental situation is a direct result of war, outdated oil production methods and a lack of security which inhibits the proper removal of waste. The high level of pollution is not only changing Iraq’s climate, but also is a major detriment to public health. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Cancer Emerges as Major Cause of Death in South (May 31, 2007)
In southern Iraq, leukemia among children and breast cancer among women have increased by 20 percent since the start of the war. Doctors and researchers blame this surge on the breakdown of the Iraqi health care system, harmful pesticides used to grow food and depression of the immune system brought on by living in a constant war zone. Cancer deaths make up 45 percent of total deaths and children are frequently born without limbs or organs or develop cancer in as little time as four weeks after birth. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Desperate Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade in Syria (May 29, 2007)
The New York Times reveals that an increasing number of Iraqi women living in Syria are turning to prostitution as they have no other means of supporting their families. According to an official at the United Nations refugee agency in Damascus, young girls are now involved in the sex trade and in some cases are being smuggled into Syria, where most of the girls working in this business are now Iraqi. The Iraq War has forced 1.2 million Iraqis into Syria, but the country has no proper infrastructure to deal with the huge influx of refugees.

Bureaucracy, Security Situation to Blame for Poor Distribution of Medical Supplies (May 22, 2007)
The medical system in Iraq has almost completely broken down, including the flawed distribution of life-saving drugs. Cedric Turlan from the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq blames the highly bureaucratic and centralized system of quality control testing for the slowed distribution of much needed drugs. Conversely, Rashid Fae’ek, a prominent public health analyst, blames the lack of security, including attacks by various factions on medical centers and healthcare workers. While the rich can buy their medicine at private pharmacies, the poor must wait for months or forgo treatment altogether. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Plight of Iraqi Children Raises Concern (May 21, 2007)
According to a report from UNICEF, the worsening security situation in Iraq has put 4.8 million children under the age of five at “increased risk.” Statistics from this UN agency also show that a fifth of Iraqi children are chronically malnourished. UNICEF has proposed a US$42 million program in Iraq, Syria and Jordan in order to cope with the rising concerns of this vulnerable population. However, the US and Iraqi government should also take more responsibility for addressing the plight of Iraqi children. (AlertNet)

UNHCR Highlights Palestinian Refugees' Plight in Desert Camp (May 17, 2007)
Nearly one thousand Palestinians remain stranded in the al-Waleed refugee camp located on the border between Iraq and Syria. UNHCR officials highlight the untenable living conditions in the camp, including a glaring lack of necessary medical provisions, potable water and protection from the weather conditions of a desert summer. Such conditions make the work of the UNHCR team next to impossible. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Poverty Drives Children to Work for Armed Groups (May 10, 2007)
Since the beginning of the US occupation in Iraq, the country’s economic and social conditions have deteriorated, forcing thousands of children to leave school to work for Sunni and Shia militias. A growing number of these children are producing bombs for armed groups and helping to fight occupation forces, risking dangerous injuries or death while earning only US$ 3 a day. The US and the Iraqi government have been unable to safeguard the lives of Iraqi children in direct violation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which states that every child should enjoy protection and have access to education. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Few Iraqi Refugees Allowed into US (April 30, 2007)
The State Department declared that the US government has accepted only 68 Iraqi refugees in six months, claiming it lacks enough personnel to complete the immigration process. These numbers are far below the 2 million Iraqis that have left the country since 2003. Further, according to David Mack, the vice president of the Middle East Institute, it is clear that the US is not making a serious effort to receive these refugees because this sends the message that the security in Iraq is not improving. Refugees International insists that the US has a responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in the country, having provoked it. (USA Today)

Violence Threatens Health in Iraq (April 17, 2007)
The World Health Organization warns of the chaotic health situation in Iraq. The escalating violence is increasing the pressure on hospitals that already face a lack of equipment, medicines and doctors. The Iraqi government estimates that roughly 70 percent of wounded Iraqis die in hospitals due to these shortages. Further, the health situation of the population is dire, with approximately 80 percent of Iraqis having no access to sanitation facilities and 21 percent of children under five suffering from malnutrition. Displacement has also intensified pressure not only on the Iraqi healthcare system, but also on those of neighboring countries.

Fix the Public Distribution System to Meet Needs of the Displaced (April 10, 2007)
About one million internally displaced people in Iraq have no source of livelihood and depend on the Public Distribution System (PDS) for food and fuel. However, the efficiency of this program has been declining due to corruption within the Iraqi government and violence that prevents trucks from reaching those in need. Further, the assistance program does not get to internally displaced Iraqis in the northern governorates. In order to resolve this situation, Refugees International calls on Iraqi and Coalition forces to increase the security for PDS convoys and urges the UN to recognize and address the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Four Years into the Occupation: No Health for Iraq (March 21, 2007)
This BRusssells Tribunal article points out that the conditions of Iraq’s health system are deteriorating. According to the Iraq Medical Association, 90 percent of hospitals in Iraq lack essential equipment and 18,000 of 34,000 physicians left the country. Further, the report of the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq revealed that military forces occupied Mosul Hospital and ambulances have been attacked on a regularly basis in Najaf, Fallujah and other parts of Anbar province. US forces have been also intruding into hospitals daily and Iraqis have refrained from using hospitals for fear of being shot. The US occupation of Iraq has resulted in a massive public health disaster for Iraqis.

Delivery of Aid Still a Problem Four Years after US Invasion (March 21, 2007)
After four years of US occupation, the vulnerable groups in Iraq still do not have access to humanitarian assistance due to the fragile security situation and the killing of aid workers, which has caused many NGOs to flee the country. According to the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq (NCCI), the number of aid workers killed since 2003 has reached 83 – the highest in any single country worldwide. Iraq’s humanitarian emergency has reached a crisis level, but the international relief system has not been able to respond accordingly. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq (March 6, 2007)
According to this report released by MADRE, an international women’s rights organization, violence against women is rising in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. Breaking a taboo in the country, two Iraqi women made public allegations of rape against Iraqi security forces. Madre’s Communication Director Yifat Susskind said that “what stands out about that allegation is the fact that those accused rapists have been trained and armed and funded by the United States." The report also blames the US for failing to protect women’s rights in Iraq and for having sparked the wave of violence against women while supporting Shiite militias that are known for such attacks.

How to Stop Genocide in Iraq (March 5, 2007)
According to this Los Angeles Times article, the US government attempts to justify its occupation of Iraq by arguing that a “possible genocide” could result from the troops’ departure. Those who defend the US presence in Iraq have failed to explain how US forces could reverse the civil war, especially since after four years the US government has not succeeded in stabilizing the security situation and preventing huge flow of refugees. The author argues that in order to avoid a greater bloodletting in Iraq, Washington should announce a withdrawal and address the humanitarian crisis in the country.

'Exodus' of Iraq's Ancient Minorities (February 26, 2007)
According to a report by Minority Rights Group International, a “huge exodus” of Iraq’s minorities is taking place in the country as these groups are constantly attacked by kidnappers and death squads that identify them with the occupation forces or see them as easy targets. The UN High Commissioner of Refugees says that 30 per cent of the 1.8 million Iraqis that left the country come from minorities. Some of these groups, which are the oldest communities in the world and may be 4,000 years old, are now facing the risk of extinction and their cultures could disappear. (Independent)

Now It Is Lack of Food Security (February 19, 2007)
Despite all its agricultural resources, Iraq is facing a collapse in food supplies. According to a report by the International Organization of Migration, 1.5 million internally displaced people in the country lack adequate food. Local and international food aid delivered to Iraq has diminished after kidnappings of activists in the country. Further, most of the local farmers are unable to get their food to the markets due to security reasons and many of them went bankrupt after the US administration decreased the tariffs on imported products. Nevertheless, foreign companies supply Iraqis with poor quality food, which now, due to inflation, is very expensive. (Inter Press Service)

New Security Plan Could Make More Homeless (February 15, 2007)
This Integrated Regional Information Networks article argues the new Baghdad security plan, which aims to diminish the sectarian violence in the city, will only worsen the already chaotic situation. As part of the plan, the Iraqi government ordered those who occupy the homes of displaced families to vacate the properties within 15 days. Nevertheless, this could provoke an increase in the number of homeless people - as those leaving have nowhere else to go – and contribute to the rise of violence. According to aid workers and analysts, this step is premature as the government cannot ensure the security of those displaced and “the plan would create more problems than it would solve.”

Armed Groups Occupy Hospitals and Kidnap Doctors (February 13, 2007)
A growing number of Iraqis have been refraining from using hospitals due to fear of being shot or arrested by insurgent groups and official forces. US troops intrude into hospitals on a daily basis, placing or looking for snipers on the roof and arresting doctors. According to an Iraqi doctor, “whatever we say they arrest us and treat us, doctors, as if we are terrorists. They take us for interrogation and threaten us. So, in reality, we face danger from the insurgents as well as from the [official] troops.” This constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which state that hospitals are and should remain neutral and accessible to everybody, especially civilians. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Children of War: The Generation Traumatized by Violence in Iraq (February 6, 2007)
A study published by the Association of Iraqi Psychologists points out that millions of Iraqi children suffer from psychological traumas due to extreme violence in the country, raising concerns about the mental health of future generations. According to parents, teachers and doctors contacted by the Guardian, children have shown distress signals, from nightmares and bedwetting to muteness, panic attacks and violence towards other children. Nevertheless, most of the children go untreated as the country lacks child psychology units and mental health programs and many of the best doctors have been killed or fled the country.

More Palestinians flee Baghdad (February 1, 2007)
This Integrated Regional Information Networks article calls attention to the growing number of Palestinians fleeing Iraq due to violent attacks by Iraqi militias and the harassment by Iraqi authorities. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 700 Palestinians are stranded in camps at the Iraq-Syria border – denied entry by the Syrian government – and they are living in terrible conditions, with no access to potable water and medicines. UNHCR urges the neighboring and resettlement countries to find a solution for these refugees.

The Battle to Save Iraq’s Children (January 19, 2007)
100 British and Iraqi doctors wrote a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair criticizing the terrible shortages of Iraqi hospitals and the lack of basic medicines, which has caused the deaths of hundreds of children. According to Save the Children, 59 in 1,000 newborn babies are dying in Iraq, one of the highest mortality rates in the world. The doctors urge the UK and the US to respect the Geneva and the Hague Conventions, which require the occupiers to address the medical needs of the population. (Independent)

US Offers Scant Help to Fleeing Refugees (January 17, 2007)
Violence and displacement have grown in Iraq since the US invasion, with approximately two million refugees and 1.7 million internally displaced people in the country. Nevertheless, the US has not taken responsibility in addressing this humanitarian crisis. The US government has only granted refugee status to 466 Iraqis since 2003 and has only allocated US$20 million for humanitarian aid in Iraq for the year 2007, which is far below its daily spending on military operations. This Inter Press Service article argues the US has the “moral obligation” to address the humanitarian crisis in the country, having provoked it.

US Air Strikes Isolate Baqubah Villagers (January 16, 2007)
The US launched air strikes against rural villages in Baqubah, claiming the offensive aimed to crush the insurgency. US officials said the attacks were successful and there were no civilian casualties. However, according to the media officer for Diyala province council, at least 14 civilians were killed and approximately 110 families were without water and food supplies as there was no prior announcement about the offensive. The Institute of Peace and Development in Iraq also reported that US troops have blocked NGOs' access to the villages, hindering them from helping those Iraqis with urgent needs. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Western Civilization? The Unspoken Fate of Iraqi Children (January 13, 2007)
This Global Research article calls attention to the consequences of the war faced by Iraqi children. Extreme poverty has caused the increase in gangs which are kidnapping children and forcing them into the sex trade. Further, 40,000 Iraqi children have been displaced due to violence and many more are facing psychological problems. According to Save the Children, 818,000 children in Iraq are unable to attend school, while those who do go do not receive proper education. These shortages constitute a violation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which states that every child should enjoy protection and have access to education.


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