Current State of Affairs in Iraq
by Muslim Women's League
Iraq, a once
modernized country has now been facing a humanitarian crisis of
immeasurable proportion after decades of war and an imposed embargo
sanctified by the United Nations. Twenty two million Iraq citizens have
suffered enormously enduring physical and emotional hardships during these
struggling times. The
following categories only serve as an outline of their struggle:
infrastructure including its water and sanitation plants was damaged after
the 1991 Persian Gulf bombardment. Currently,
these plants lack spare parts and skilled personnel to maintain them as
well as chemicals like chlorine to keep the cycle of sanitation going.
The electricity in Iraq is substandard and often Iraqis face
frequent power cuts during the day.
production has been disrupted and thus leading to an overall diminished
availability of food grown locally.
health system has suffered much damage structurally to health care
facilities as well as internally.
is widespread especially among children with statistics from UNICEF report
(Oct 7/02) indicating that almost one third of children in the south and
center of Iraq suffer from chronic malnutrition.
Cases of kwashiorkor and marasmus are both prevalent and place the
children at risk of decreased immune system susceptible to infections etc.
The rates of child mortality have climbed due to decreased breast
feeding, low birth weights among newborns, anemia among women.
diseases are on the rise with cases of malaria, typhoid, TB, cholera and
diphtheria because of the breakdown in Iraq’s infrastructure (including
the water and sanitation plants). Approximately
70% of childhood deaths are due to dehydration secondary to diarrhea and
acute respiratory illness. (UNICEF OCT 7/02)
There is a
decline in schooling (literacy) among school-aged children (6-15) due to
multiple factors. One in four
children do not attend school – usually the boys are working to help
offset financial needs of family and girls stay home to take care of their
siblings. (UNICEF, OCT 7/02) Schools
have been structurally damaged and there is a shortage in school supplies
etc. Teacher’s salaries
have dropped and there is a decrease in the number of quality teachers.
isolation is a consequence of the embargo with a lack of updated
references and textbooks since 1991.
A breakdown in
Iraqi society has occurred with an increase in female-headed households,
working mothers, children laborers and children on the street.
unemployment and market food purchases has made it difficult for families
to survive with decreased purchasing power.
The result has left some Iraqis to resort to begging, prostitution
and forcing their children to work instead of attend school.
Nations Security Council Resolution 986 was passed and implemented in 1997
allowing for Government of Iraq to sell specified amounts of oil in
exchange for humanitarian supplies. It
has become the food line for most Iraqis but there is much limitation and
inadequate distribution of supplies to meet the daily requirements of an
details on above, please visit the following websites
passing of the United Nation’s resolution 1441 and Saddam Hussein’s
reluctant acceptance by no means the Iraqi civilians are out of danger.
With or without the prospect of war, thousands of Iraqis will
continue to die.
living conditions for the people are a consequence of the Persian Gulf War
bombing, the imposed economic sanctions, the eight year Iran-Iraq and the
continued persecutions and neglect of Iraqi civilians carried out by the
Iraqi government. (For more
details, visit web.amnesty.org/web/content.nsf/pages/gbr_iraq)
On the other
hand, the consequences of war are serious especially with the risk of an
unconventional war exposing millions
of Iraqis to a possible chemical/ biological unleashing of weapons if used
by the current regime. Either
scenario, human suffering will be disproportionately high but the
continued status of an oppressed Iraqi population is unacceptable and the
living conditions are deplorable.
currently only a handful of international organizations working in Iraq to
provide relief and to assist with long-term planning. The following organizations are working in Iraq:
Relief and Development
non-governmental organization founded in 1993, which has helped distribute
medicines, backpacks to the people in Iraq, and helped refurbish schools
as well as has worked with the Veteran for Peace to repair water treatment
international non-governmental organization founded in 1984, which is
currently distributing food to the Iraqi people during the month of
Ramadan. The organization has
submitted a proposal to the Iraqi government to work on 1) Leukemia
Treatment Center 2) School Rehabilitation Project 3) Water Purification
Plants 3) Advocacy against sanctions
Kingdom charity participating in emergency relief and long-term
development helping children and their families in Northern Iraq.
organization to help end poverty which has been active in food
distribution to children in Iraqi hospitals and has worked on enhancing
the Iraqi water system with the Diyala, Mahaveal and Hamza Integrated
Water Project as well as the Water and Sanitation Project.
An agency of
churches of the United Kingdom and Ireland
Agency for Overseas Development
charity organization that has distributed food to 40,000 Iraqi families
and has funded a Well Baby Program.
network of non-profit organizations dedicated to improve lives of the
The issue of
Iraq is a complicated one since there are no simple answers to alleviate
the suffering of the Iraqi people.
people continue to suffer under the current government and the prospect of
war has its risk of causing massive civilian casualties, disruption of
food/medicine supplies, additional infrastructure damage, environmental
destruction with no guarantee for a predictable outcome.