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Iraqi elections in the wake of a deepening crisis

Source: Danish Refugee Council (DRC) - Denmark - Tue, 29 Apr 2014 17:06 GMT
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The conflict in Anbar has caused the displacement of 400.000 people since January and with violence spreading to other parts of Central Iraq the crisis is deepening before the upcoming elections on April 30. According to DRC Country Director, Michael Bates, the humanitarian situation on the ground is grave and worsening and the funding far from sufficient.

The upcoming prime minister, presidential and parliamentary elections in Iraq will be taking place in the context of a crisis that remains relatively underexposed despite its serious consequences.

“We have been operating in Iraq since the war in 2003 and have seen the country struggle to stabilize. The crisis unfolding right now destabilizes new areas causing massive displacement. It is beginning to resemble the scenario leading up to the crisis in 2006 and 2007 when the country plunged into ade facto civil-war at the height of the sectarian violence. However, this time it is happening with limited attention from the international community,” says DRC Country director, Michael Bates.  

The current wave of displacement adds to an already existing challenge and brings the number of IDP’s in the country to a total of 1.4 million internally displaced. At the same time only 9 million US${esc.dollar}, out of a UN emergency appeal for 103 million US${esc.dollar} in March has been raised. The number of IDP’s have increased from 240.000 to 400.000 during the same period.

“It does not take a mathematician to figure out that there is a lack of correspondence between needs and available funding. With crisis’s in Syria, South Sudan and Central African Republic the humanitarian community is already stretching resources and we are seriously concerned for the IDP population in Iraq if agencies are forced to reduce or close down operations in central Iraq from lack of funding,” says Michael Bates.    

The internally displaced population faces a number of serious threats both in terms of the lack of protection and access to shelter and basic emergency relief.

“IDP’s and the general civilian population have become targets in an unstable Iraq and right now we are seeing people return to areas of conflict because they are out of resources and means to survive. Sectarian violence is showing no signs of abating and we have to act and we have to act now,” says Michael Bates.    

The Danish Refugee Council and its demining branch the Danish Demining Group have been working in Iraq since 2003. In 2014 the Danish Refugee Council’s program is working to address the needs of the Iraqi IDPs and returnees as well as the Syrian Refugees building on the strengths and expertise that DRC has developed in Iraq over the last 11 years.

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