Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Was That About Progress Being Made?

refugee camp Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Some 80,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and registered with the government as refugees over the past two months, data showed on Thursday, taking the total in seven months of sectarian violence to a quarter of a million.

A spokesman for the Migration Ministry, Sattar Nowruz, told Reuters that figures for the end of September showed that more than 40,000 families were claiming aid after leaving homes since February 22, when the destruction of a major Shi'ite shrine at Samarra sparked heavy and continuing sectarian bloodshed.

The ministry estimates the average Iraqi family at six people, giving a current total of more than 240,000 people compared to 27,000 families and 162,000 people at the end of July. Nowruz acknowledged that many more people do not register with the ministry or have fled abroad, and so are not counted.

"The reason for this increase is that the security situation in some provinces has deteriorated considerably, forcing people to flee their homes in fear for their lives," he said.

Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, had seen a particular increase in people escaping fierce conflict among militants from the area's Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish communities.

On the other hand, security operations in parts of Baghdad, such as the southern district of Dora, had seen people moving back to homes they had abandoned, Nowruz said. The southern oil city of Basra had also seen people returning, he added.


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