Iraq: Curfew leaves Baghdad suburb residents in trouble

BAGHDAD, 4 June 2007 (IRIN) - Clashes between rival Sunni militant groups in the Sunni neighbourhood of Amiriyah in western Baghdad have left residents facing acute difficulties.

In a bid to restore calm after the last week of clashes, the Iraqi authorities and US forces imposed a curfew, adding to residents' problems.

"This is our seventh day indoors and we have run out of basic essentials," said Sarhad Abdul-Ghafour Amin, a 48-year-old taxi driver from Amiriyah.

"Shops have been closed for the last week. and we can't venture out to other areas for fear of being shot by militants or US and Iraqi forces," Amin, a father of five, told IRIN.

"We have already run out of meat, vegetables, mineral water and fuel for the generator. We have only flour and eggs and are forced to drink dirty water. I have just eight blood pressure tablets left and it will be a real catastrophe for me if I can't get more," he added.

On 29 May, fighters from the Islamic Army in Iraq and the 1920 Revolution Brigades clashed with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Iraqi and US troops fanned out in the neighborhood on 31 May and enforced an indefinite curfew.

"My nine-year old son has diarrhoea due to drinking dirty water and I can't take him to hospital," said Faiz Mohammed al-Janabi, a 51-year-old government employee from Amiriyah.

"Me and my wife can't go to work and the children are not able to do their final exams," al-Janabi added.

"We are in dire need of potable water and food. We are just eating rice with the bread that we baked on 1 June. We have run out of oil and gas for cooking and don't know what we are going to do," he added.

An Iraqi army officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the authorities would ease the curfew on 4 or 5 June and allow civilians to vacate or move around the troubled neighbourhood on foot only.

"We are aware of their suffering and are doing our best to alleviate the situation by offering them what we can," the officer said.