The areas of violence are scattered and although the Southern governorates are considered safer, violence against women is increasing in Basrah.
In the North, preparations are under way for the launching of a massive military intervention in Mosul to rout out the militias still masterminding numerous suicide attacks across the country. The civilian population caught in the middle is prevented from leaving and will suffer the consequences.
The number of Iraqis killed by suicide attacks and fighting has decreased notably and was at the beginning of the year the lowest in almost two years, nevertheless 541 individuals lost their lives in January (Source : Health and Internal Affairs Ministries), considered a quiet month.
Hundreds of thousands of Baghdadis now live in walled-in, ethnically cleansed, heavily guarded enclaves that they are terrified to leave. Sunnis do not venture into Shia areas, and vice-versa. Sectarian hatreds have been contained, but not resolved.
2 millions of internally displaced and 2 millions of refugees (Sources : United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Iraqi Ministry of Displaced People) are still struggling to survive in dire conditions. They cannot return to their place of origin, as their safety cannot be guaranteed. Together with the hosting communities in the governorates, they cannot rely on public services, for clean water, for the provision of electricity, for accessible and appropriate health care, for decent education, and for their share of food supplies.
Although, the number of acts of violence has decreased in the past few months, the stability is extremely shaky as it relies on the increased number of armed forces (Multi National Forces Iraq (MNF-I) and Iraqi army), security companies, Sunni-led US supported fighter groups, and on the erection of high walls encircling neighbourhoods, preventing entry to outsiders.
Al-Qaeda militias remain strong and engage in continuous revenge killings of Sunni led resistance groups. Fighting against the MNF-I, the Iraqi armed forces and the various tribal groups who have switched allegiance to the US put a heavy toll on the residents in many governorates (Baghdad, Diyala, Salheddin, Anbar).
Five year later the US led invasion has produced one of the largest humanitarian crisis of our time and no end is in sight. If the risk of disintegration has subdued, the sectarian divisions impair all attempts to start the reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.
Première Urgence is implementing humanitarian programmes in Iraq without interruption since 1997 in all governorates except Kurdistan :
- Support to hospital infrastructures through medical material and equipment supplying for medical emergency rooms ;
- Water and sanitation rehabilitation for primary health centers ;
- Kids evacuation to French hospital to be operated from severe heart diseases.
Our presence today is fully justified and essential to meet the needs of civilian population affected by the conflict.