Iraq

Iraq: Families returning to Karabila in need

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BAGHDAD, 17 July (IRIN) - Nearly all residents from the town of Karabila, in Iraq's western Anbar governorate have returned, but are now in need of humanitarian assistance.

They fled a heavy US-led attack four weeks ago against insurgents, aid agencies said.

Some 65 percent of buildings in the town have been damaged following battles between US forces and insurgents, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS).

The operation left around 7,000 families displaced in the nearby desert, close to the city of al-Qaim. Now they have gone back to their homes and are trying to piece their lives together again, following the five-day military operation.

According to a report released by the IRCS on Wednesday, the situation in the town is critical for many families especially those whose properties have been destroyed are now forced to live in tents inside the town.

Others are making do in dangerous, partly destroyed buildings, some confined to only one room. Others have been forced to camp in the gardens of their wrecked former homes.

"When you ask families there if the situation is better they will answer that it has improved - but simply because there is no fighting. Security has become the most important issue for Iraqis and food and supplies come second," Mazem Sallon, general secretary of the IRCS, said in Baghdad.

Sallon added that only 30 families are still displaced in an area near the town called Akashat mineral compound.

The Iraqi government has not said whether residents will be compensated for the losses they have sustained. Repairs to essential public utilities, such as water and power, have not yet started.

"We are studying the case of Karabila and we will soon find a solution. We have not started work inside because we are checking if the situation is calm there," Salah Hussein, a senior official in the Iraqi government, said.

The town has been suffering from a lack of purified water and local health clinics and hospitals face a chronic shortage of medicines.

"Some families are going to the capital to get their medicine because we do not have enough drugs. The health situation in all the western cities is critical," Dr Hamed al-Alousi, director of the nearby al-Qaim general hospital, said.

The IRCS said it was in the process of sending a convoy into the area carrying thousands of medical kits, including emergency equipment. These were donated by the Syrian Red Crescent Society (SRCS), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Greek Doctors' Association (GDA).

Following constant battles in Anbar province between US forces and insurgent groups, the IRCS is running low on supplies and has called for assistance from international aid organisations.

[ENDS]

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