Let’s Not Forget Them

Displaced urge Iraqi Red Crescent to return
© Afif Sarhan/IRIN

The Red Crescent’s suspension of its work in Baghdad has seriously affected the lives of thousands of Iraqis

BAGHDAD, 8 Jan 2007 (IRIN) – Displaced families in the capital, Baghdad, have urged the Iraqi Red Crescent Society to continue supporting people who have been displaced as a result of sectarian violence.

“We need urgent help because since the [Red Crescent] volunteers in the capital stopped their work, we have been seriously suffering with the lack of assistance, medical care at camps, and especially food,” said Ibraheem Rabia’a, a displaced metal-worker who acts as a spokesperson for a group of 120 families living in abandoned government buildings on the outskirts of the capital.

According to the Brookings Institution, 650,000 Iraqis are internally displaced, living in camps or abandoned buildings. A further one million people are estimated to have been displaced before March 2003. Local NGOs, like the Red Crescent and Iraqi Aid Association, believe that at least 30 percent of the total number are living in the capital, Baghdad.

The Red Crescent suspended its activities in Baghdad after 36 people were abducted, 30 of them Red Crescent staff members, on 17 December. The move spurred the organisation, which was the main provider of aid in Baghdad, into closing 40 of its subsidiary offices in the capital.

Eleven of the abducted employees were released last month, however, 19 others – a mixed group of Shi’ite and Sunni aid workers – have still not been released.

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