No measure of safety
The Iraqi government scoffs at claims by international human rights organisations that security and living conditions in Iraq are deteriorating, reports Nermeen Al-Mufti from Baghdad
In a country where no less than 70 civilians are killed on any given day, and where over a million have fled their homes to live in makeshift camps, the Iraqi parliament has taken the extraordinary step of forming a committee to question what they term “exaggerated reports” by international humanitarian organisations about the situation in Iraq.
Alaa Al-Talabani, chairperson of the committee on civil society organisations, was quoted by the local press as saying that a parliamentary committee had been established to investigate the statistics and reports released by international organisations about the security and living conditions in Iraq. “A great number of those organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), have no headquarters in Baghdad and issue statistics that border on the fictitious,” Al-Talabani said.
The committee on civil society organisations intends to question representatives of these international organisations about the statistics they release. “Reports from the Human Rights Commission, the UNHCR and the ICRC have made serious allegations concerning the deteriorating health and social conditions of large numbers of orphans and widows. These reports and figures do not reflect reality, and some are exaggerated,” Al-Talabani remarked.
In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, an ICRC spokesman in Iraq Hesham Hassan said that the ICRC had expressed dismay at Al-Talabani’s remarks, as well as “the suggestion that the credibility of international organisations was questionable. We work independently and provide credible and reliable data derived from the activities of our special mission and the Iraqi Red Crescent.” Hassan explained that the situation in Iraq was deteriorating due to the government focussing exclusively on political matters.
“The health problem, for example, is not related to the paucity of medicine alone, but to the poor state of the infrastructure, and also to the lack of security that doctors face when travelling to clinics or hospitals,” he added. The ICRC has been working in Iraq since the Iraq-Iran war and is one of the few international organisations still operating in the country, despite the attacks on its facilities and the death of some of its workers. The group has offices in Irbil, Al-Suleimaniya, and Dahuk in northern Iraq, as well as in Basra and Baghdad, Hassan pointed out.
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