Iraq: NCCI's Weekly Highlight 07 Jun 2007

News and Press Release
Originally published


It's going to be a long hot summer

Summer is coming.

Over the next few weeks until September, temperatures in Baghdad will reach up to 50oC daily, with some spikes up to 60oC. Unless you live through it, it is almost impossible to understand what these temperatures mean concretely. But it is hot. It is very hot. It is very, very hot.

This year, as has been the case for the last few years, these unbearable temperatures will be accompanied with limited water and electricity and heralded with an unbelievable degree of violence.

Despite of the so-called surge and the Baghdad Security Plan, last week there were 148 attacks and 106 deaths daily according to UNAMI security figures. Most of the victims were civilians and most of the attacks occurred in central Iraq. Where is the evidence supporting the "little progress" that has been announced and floated in the media over the past few days?

For some people, electricity is not a basic need. But it becomes one when you don't have power for a fan to refresh you, when you don't have fresh and drinking water, when you cannot keep fresh food. It is one when it aggravates service delivery in health facilities which are already collapsing. It becomes one when the coolest place to sleep is on the roof and you cannot do that safely because of the intermittent rain of bullets, and when consider the buzz of mosquitoes as pleasant in comparison to the mechanical roar of helicopters flying overhead.

The consequences of such a situation are obvious: lack of proper water, increased incidence of diseases, etc.

Al-Mada already relayed "increasingly rampant typhoid and jaundice in Baghdad". Unfortunately the situation is not expected to improve in the coming weeks, since the Mayor of Baghdad is reported in the same newspaper to "block health inspection teams from checking water treatment plants". And the tens of bodies that lay in the streets every morning, sometimes for several days, don't help either, particularly under the above mentioned temperatures.

There is no need to stipulate that this year most Iraqis still in the country will not go on holidays. There is also no need to emphasise that IDPs are not campers and that they did not chose the place they are living in. Especially since all borders are closing in front of them one after one. Especially with the degrading living conditions reported daily from Iraq.

Are the Parliament and the Government cognisant and sensitized to the reality their compatriots live under when they announced in Al-Sabbah that they want to interrogate representatives of several international agencies because of the "dangerous statistics" published recently in various reports on Iraq's "deteriorated social and health situation"? The Parliament is planning a 2 month break during summer time. At least they know the meaning of life under such temperatures.

2.2 million Iraqis are trying to live abroad. 2 million Iraqis just survive. 20 million other Iraqis are hostages in the country that has the worst quality of life worldwide, according to the Economist.

So what kind of holidays will Iraqi children enjoy under these conditions? What summer can they expect? Jailed in the houses to avoid kidnapping and bombs? Without electricity, without water, sometimes with limited food? Under the stress of knowing their fathers or mothers may not be coming back from the market? What kind of games will they play, trapped in an explosive oven?

Are some summer programs planned for them? Are some specific projects forecast to respond to the summer crisis? No doubt that community-based programs have already given some thought to this reality. But will they have the means to respond? Or will they continue to receive blankets for the IDPs as has been the case in the past, because, sometimes, results-oriented approaches are more important than needs-oriented projects in some head quarters?

A Humanitarian Crisis rages in Iraq and deepens and becomes more entrenched every month. The overall situation is not expected to improve this summer. The crisis is brewing and may become more acute, and still nothing has been planned yet.