At the end of October 2008, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released its latest report on Iraq. The study covered the cholera outbreak, security, refugees and their return, the drought, and Iraq’s budget.
In 2008 the United Nations and non-government organizations (NGOs) increased their activities within Iraq due to the improved security situation. Together they have formed a Consolidated Appeals Process to fund humanitarian assistance to Iraqis. In 2008 this fund had $164,675,584, but it asked for $271,371,554. This money went towards refugees, health, shelter, water, sanitation, schools, and food aid. Overall, the U.N. believes that the situation within Iraq is moving from a country in crisis to fragile stability where violence is down and refugees are slowly returning.
The first major issue the report covered was the health situation, namely the on-going cholera outbreak. The first case appeared in Maysan province in August 2008. Since then it has spread to twelve of Iraq’s eighteen provinces, including Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Qadisiyah, Diyala, Irbil, Karbala, Muthanna, Najaf, and Wasit. The number of cases peaked on September 22 with 79 then decreased, only to pick up again in mid-October. The disease is a regular occurrence in the country with an average of 600 annual cases. As of November 4, there were 738 confirmed cases. By November 18 the Iraqi Health Ministry reported that number had increased to 900, but said it will no longer provide statistics because of concerns with the media, other ministries, and victims. There have also been eight deaths as a result. As reported earlier, the majority of cases have occurred in Babil. The major causes have been inadequate and deteriorating infrastructure, and official incompetence.
The United Nations and the Iraqi government have tried to respond to the crisis. The World Health Organization has provided support to Baghdad as well, which has set up 950 centers to monitor the outbreak. The Ministry of Health also has a Cholera Preparedness Plan at work. By November 13, they claimed that 99% of the cases in Babil and Qadisiyah had been cured.
Cholera Cases In Iraq As Of 11/4/08
Diyala: 1 district affected, first-last case 9/9/08 – 9/9/08, 1 case
Wasit: 1 district affected, first-last case 9/30/08 – 9/30/08, 2 cases
Irbil: 2 districts affected, first-last case 10/14/08 - 10/14/08, 2 cases
Maysan: 1 district affected, first-last case 8/7/08 - 8/28/08, 3 cases, 1 death
Anbar: 2 districts affected, first-last case 9/7/08 - 10/1/08, 8 cases
Muthanna: 1 district affected, first-last case 10/14/08 - 11/1/08, 10 cases
Najaf: 3 districts affected, first-last case 9/17/08 - 10/28/08, 33 cases, 5 under investigation
Karbala: 3 districts affected, first-last case 9/5/08 - 10/27/08, 55 cases, 4 under investigation
Basra: 5 districts affected, first-last case 8/18/08 - 10/6/08, 58 cases, 1 death, 2 under investigation
Baghdad: 12 districts affected, first-last case 9/20/08 - 11/3/08, 92 cases, 1 death, 1 under investigation
Qadisiyah: 4 districts affected, first-last case 8/28/08 - 11/2/08, 207 cases, 2 deaths, 44 under investigation
Babil: 4 districts affected, first-last case 8/7/08 - 11/3/08, 267 cases, 3 deaths
Totals: 39 districts affected, first-last case 8/7/08 - 11/3/08, 738 cases, 8 deaths, 56 under investigation
The U.N. reported that the number of deaths in Iraq has decreased from September to October. In October there were 294 civilian deaths and 726 wounded compared to 332 killed and 867 wounded in September. The number of deaths is higher if unidentified bodies found on the streets are included. Most of the violence is concentrated in northern and central Iraq.
Casualties – October 2008
Iraqi Civilians: 294 killed, 726 wounded
Iraqi Security Forces: 79 killed, 195 wounded
Iraqi Officials: 8 killed, 8 wounded
Unidentified Bodies: 70
Insurgents/militiamen: 75 killed, 9 wounded
Awakening/Sons of Iraq: 8 killed, 5 wounded
TOTAL: 534 killed, 943 wounded
Security Incidents – October 2008
Kurdistan: Small Arms Fire: 1, Indirect Fire: 3, IED: 2, found: 1, TOTAL: 7
North: Small Arms Fire: 117, Indirect Fire: 4, RPG: 5, Hand Grenades: 23, IED: 165, VBIED: 7, Found: 73, TOTA: 394
North Central: Small Arms Fire: 79, Indirect Fire: 22, RPG: 7, Hand Grenades: 12, IED: 124, VBIED: 4, Found: 112, TOTAL: 360
Baghdad: Small Arms Fire: 50, Indirect Fire: 21, RPG: 1, Hand Grenades: 14, IED: 150, VBIED: 7, Found: 120, TOTL: 363
West: Small Arms Fire: 28, Indirect Fire: 5, Hand Grenades: 1, IED: 32, VBIED: 3, Found: 12, TOTAL: 92
South Central: Small Arms Fire: 28, Indirect Fire: 1, IED: 22, Found: 17, TOTAL: 68
South: Small Arms Fire: 14, Indirect Fire: 7, Hand Grenades: 1, IED: 16, Found: 16, TOTAL: 54
TOTAL: Small Arms Fire: 316, Indirect Fire: 60, RPG: 13, Hand Grenades: 51, IED: 509, VBIED: 21, Found: 361, TOTAL: 1338
The third issue that the U.N. report dealt with was that of Iraq’s refugees. The latest mass exodus occurred in Mosul when Christians were attacked. Twelve were killed and approximately 2,465 families fled as a result. The Christians received leaflets, letters, text messages, messages painted on walls, and even announcements on loud speakers all telling them to leave. Several houses were destroyed, and 19 were robbed. Because some of these incidents happened in the middle of the day there is strong suspicion that the Kurds were behind the attacks. The fact that they occurred right after Christians began protesting the exclusion of an article in the provincial election law that would have given minorities a quota on provincial councils also adds a political element to the incident. The Christians in Mosul are caught between the Muslim Arabs and the Kurds who are vying for control. The Christians are a swing vote in the city and province, with both sides trying to gain their loyalties or intimidate them. There are reports that up to 500 families have come back to Mosul because of jobs or school, although on November 12 two Christian sisters were assassinated at their home.
In terms of the larger refugee crisis, the U.N. notes that the process of returning has begun. Although the number of families coming back is small, it is increasing. The government fully supports this and has launched a refugee program based upon encouraging Iraqis to go back to their residences. On September 1, 2008 Maliki issued Order 101 that said all squatters must vacate their premises. The order also set up refugee centers in Baghdad to assist with returns. Any family that registered with the authorities would receive one million dinars to help with their move. The centers are also supposed to help with any property disputes. The International Organization for Migration reported that 16,782 families (100,692 people) have gone back to Baghdad. Another 11,986 families have returned to other parts of the country, with 8,691 going back to Anbar and Diyala provinces. 92% of those are internal refugees. Some are not able to go back to their homes because they are occupied or destroyed, leading to further displacement. In Maysan province for example, 100% of returnees were not able to return to their homes, only to their original neighborhoods, while in Karbala it was the exact opposite. There 100% of families were able to get back into their houses. In Baghdad, which has seen the greatest displacement and returns, 91% were able to go back to their homes. In Diyala that number was 96% and in Anbar 97%. Many of these families still face large obstacles such as finding jobs, food, and shelter.
Iraqi Government Figures On Internally Displaced
Note: This is the number of families and people that have registered with the government. The actual numbers are probably higher.
Dohuk: Families: 18,706, Individuals: 104,824, 7% of total
Irbil: Families: 10,304, Individuals: 52,007, 4% of total
Sulaymaniya: Families: 14,585, Individuals: 80,935, 5% of total
Total North: Families: 43,595, Individuals: 237,766
Ninewa: Families: 19,100, Individuals: 106,623, 3.7% of total
Tamim: Families: 7,911, Individuals: 43, 623, 4.8% of total
Anbar: Families: 9,179, Individuals: 55, 716, 3.6% of total
Baghdad: Families: 90,731, Individuals: 550,099, 7.5% of total
Diyala: Families: 22,784, Individuals: 136,891, 8.5% of total
Salahaddin: Families: 7,790, Individuals: 45,614, 3.7% of total
Total Center: Families: 157,495, Individuals: 938,566
Babil: Families: 12,677, Individuals: 77,197, 4.5% of total
Basra: Families: 5,989, Individuals: 35,509, 1.8% of total
Qadisiyah: Families: 3,858, Individuals: 25,186, 2.5% of total
Karbala: Families: 10,921, Individuals: 70,709, 7.7% of total
Maysan: Families: 6,792, Individuals: 46,523, 5.5% of total
Muthanna: Families: 2,457, Individuals: 18,331, 2.9% of total
Najaf: Families: 10,087, Individuals: 57,716, 5.2% of total
Dhi Qar: Families: 7,066, Individuals: 47,423, 2.8% of total
Wasit: Families: 12,306, Individuals: 75,457, 6.9% of total
Total South: Families: 72,153, Individuals: 454,051
Grand Total: Families: 273,243, Individuals: 1,630,383
Iraq is facing the greatest water crisis in at least ten years. The northern provinces of Diyala, Ninewa, Dohuk, and Irbil have been affected the most. In the north, many farms rely upon rain for their crops. Wheat and barley production is estimated to be 51% lower than 2007 numbers as a result. Electricity and fuel shortages along with deteriorating infrastructure are also hampering the government’s response. Families in four districts have been displaced from mountainous regions because of the drought as well because they cannot support themselves. The Kurds have set up a special committee to deal with the problem, and five million dinars have been allocated to help with wells, pipes, etc. Water shortages in Sulaymaniyah have also led to many diarrhea cases, but no cholera so far. Iraq has seen a recent spate of rain, which might alleviate the situation.
The last issue covered is Iraq’s budget. The 2009 budget was just approved on November 12 and totals $67 billion. This is a decrease from the original proposal of $80 billion. The major reason for the cut is the rapidly declining price of oil. The budget will likely run a deficit as it was based upon a $62 a barrel price for oil, when world prices are currently around $50 a barrel. $52 billion of the budget will go to operational costs such as bills and salaries, with only $4.1 billion going towards the capital budget, which is used for investment in infrastructure. The budget cut will have an affect on humanitarian assistance provided by the government as well.
Alsumaria, “99% of cholera cases healed in Babel,” 11/13/08
- “Iraq Cabinet approves 2009 budget,” 11/12/08
Associated Press, “Iraq plans to cut 2009 budget by $13 billion,” 10/31/08
Azzaman, “Iraqi Oil Exports Receding by 100,000 Barrels a Day Every Month, Former Minister Says,” 11/19/08
Reuters, “Gunmen Kill Two Christian Sisters In Iraq’s Mosul,” 11/12/08
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq Humanitarian Update,” October 2008