Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December 19th Update2 News In English From Aswat Al Iraq Together With Various Agency Reports

IRAQ: Aid agencies call for respect from armed groups

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© Afif Sarhan/IRIN

Attacks on Iraqi Red Crescent Society workers have made their jobs increasingly difficult.

BAGHDAD, 18 Dec 2006 (IRIN) - Ahmed Hussam (not his real name), 32, was shell-shocked after his colleagues were kidnapped on Sunday while on duty in the Iraqi Red Crescent Society's (IRCS) office in the capital, Baghdad.

"I saw my colleagues being taken by kidnappers and the ones who remained couldn't do anything to help them because the men were carrying guns and wearing police uniforms," Hussam said.

"It is a tragedy for the aid community. IRCS has been the main aid agency helping Iraqis and yet it has been targeted many times and some volunteers have been killed over the past three years. Now, 25 men have been taken and we don't know if they are going to be released alive," he added.

On 17 December, armed men wearing commando-style uniforms stormed the IRCS office in Baghdad and kidnapped 30 men. Women were segregated and left alone. Reports suggest that six men, all elderly, have been released.

It is a tragedy for the aid community. IRCS has been the main aid agency helping Iraqis and yet it has been targeted many times and some volunteers have been killed over the past three years.

Ahmed Hussam, Iraqi Red Crescent Society

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Committee of the Red Crescent (ICRC) have called for the immediate release of the workers, saying the Iraqi Red Crescent provided vital help for those in need.

"We demand their unconditional and immediate release. They are clearly identified by the Red Crescent emblem and they are entitled to full protection under international humanitarian law," Nada Doumani, the spokeswoman of the ICRC, told IRIN, without giving more details about any ongoing negotiations.

Doumani said that the ICRC has to remain neutral during conflicts and as such has a policy of working with all influential armed groups in any country so as to facilitate their humanitarian work on the ground and protect their employees. The ICRC has already been involved in negotiations with insurgent groups in Iraq before this latest incident, she said.

Grim picture of humanitarian situation

Doumani added that since the kidnapping no exceptional measures have been taken yet and that the ICRC would continue working in Iraq. "This [kidnapping] portrays the grim picture of the humanitarian situation in Iraq. This will make the work of these organisations very hard and will reflect on the services being offered to the Iraqi people," she said.

Most aid agencies pulled out of Iraq following the bombing of the United Nations compound in Baghdad in August 2003, in which 23 people were killed. With 1,000 staff members and 200,000 volunteers, the Iraqi Red Crescent is the only aid organisation extensively covering all of Iraq.

"We hope they [the kidnapped] are going to be released soon because we have a good reputation with Iraqis who respect us and trust us as a neutral organisation," Mazen Abdallah, secretary general of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said.

Iraqi citizens and aid workers are facing a large gap between the legal protection they should enjoy and the violent reality on the ground… More than ever aid workers who continue to work in Iraq on a daily basis to save lives are heroic.

Cedric Turlan, NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq
The NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) urged the various fighting groups in Iraq to recognise and respect the presence of NGOs working impartially in the country for the benefit of the people. It called for the protection of aid workers and the release of those abducted or detained.

"Iraqi citizens and aid workers are facing a large gap between the legal protection they should enjoy and the violent reality on the ground. They face daily violations - such as abductions, executions, arbitrary detentions, attacks on aid convoys and a lack of respect for the principle of distinction between military and civilian people and objects," Cedric Turlan, NCCI Information Officer, said.

Turlan said that at least 81 aid workers have been killed since 2003.

"More than ever aid workers who continue to work in Iraq on a daily basis to save lives are heroic. Legally, the sovereign Iraqi state is responsible for attempting to stem all violations of human rights," Turlan said.

Turlan added that the Iraqi government should regulate and facilitate NGOs' work and that the US-led Multinational Forces there should recognise NGOs' presence and facilitate their access to vulnerable populations during military operations.
Copyright © IRIN 2006
The material contained on www.IRINnews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Reuters AlertNet - MUSLIM AID LAUNCHES APPEAL FOR IRAQI ORPHANS AND WIDOWS:

MUSLIM AID LAUNCHES APPEAL FOR IRAQI ORPHANS AND WIDOWS 18 Dec 2006 16:44:00 GMT Source: Muslim Aid - UK Muslim Aid Website: http://www.muslimaid.org Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

MUSLIM AID | Press Releases:

MUSLIM AID LAUNCHES APPEAL FOR IRAQI ORPHANS AND WIDOWS About Us > Press Releases 15/12/2006 It has been calculated that the violence in Baghdad claims 120 lives a day in the Iraqi capital. It has also been estimated by US scientists that over half a million civilians have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, and last month has seen some of the bloodiest sectarian violence since then. "The orphans and the widows are the people who feel the brunt of this violence," said Saif Ahmad, CEO of Muslim Aid. "They are the ones who have to pick up the pieces, and move on with their lives. That is one of the reasons why we are launching this appeal." Muslim Aid has operated a field office in Iraq since 2003, and has put a lot of resources into orphan care in the war-torn country. With Iraq verging on the brink of civil war, Muslim Aid has stepped up its drive to provide assistance to the country. (ENDS) For further information, please contact Michael Siva at 0207-377-4220 or media@muslimaid.org

Iraq-Security (Highlights) -2 :: Aswat al Iraq :: Aswat al Iraq:

Iraq-Security (Highlights) -2 Security developments in Iraq Baghdad, Dec 18, (VOI) - Main security developments in Iraq on Monday:

  1. Falluja- The Iraqi police said on Monday the U.S. forces launched an intensive search campaign in southern Falluja during which 30 suspects were arrested.
  2. Mosul- Police patrols in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul found on Monday two unidentified bodies dumped in western Mosul, a police source said.
  3. Baghdad- A policeman was killed and another was wounded on Monday with sniper's bullets in Wathba square in central Baghdad, a police source said.
  4. Baaquba- The Baaquba morgue said on Monday it received ten unidentified bodies that bore torture marks and had shots in different parts of the body.
  5. Falluja- The Iraqi police said on Monday masked gunmen shot dead a policeman outside his house in central Falluja.

Al Zaman (English):

Japan business delegation in Kurdish north
A Japanese business delegation has arrived in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya to discuss what Japan can do to reconstruct the Kurdish region.... more 18/12/2006

Reconciliation conference ends with failure
The reconciliation conference the government convened to bring the disparate Iraqi groups together has failed.... more 18/12/2006

Unemployment at 50% says minister
Nearly half of Iraqis able to work are idle, said Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.... more 14/12/2006

Official says U.S. lying about reconstruction
The United States does not tell the truth about the reconstruction projects it executes in the country, the governor of the southern province of Diwayniya said.... more 13/12/2006

Children die, miscarriages increase as U.S. troops lay siege to city
At least eight children have died and seven women have had miscarriages in the town of al-Sinya which invading U.S. troops have put under siege for more than 50 days.... more 12/12/2006

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/17/2006 | Roundup of violence in Iraq - 17 December:

Roundup of violence in Iraq - 17 December By MOHAMMED Al AWSY McClatchy Newspapers The daily Iraq violence report is compiled by McClatchy Newspapers Special Correspondent Mohammed al Awsy in Baghdad from police, military and medical reports. This is not a comprehensive list of all violence in Iraq, much of which goes unreported. It's posted without editing as transmitted to McClatchy's Washington Bureau. Baghdad · at 12:30 this afternoon 10 police vehicles with people wearing the commandos uniforms stormed inside the red crescent office in park al saadon area near karada and near al andalous square , they kidnapped between 20 -30 employees and visitors and went to unknown place after a while the Iraqi forces locked the area no one leaves and no one comes to the area and starting to search the near by neighborhoods, an employee working at red crescent said that 6 employees were freed by was not conformed by the Iraqi police yet . · this morning a car bomb exploded in al mahmodiyah area southern Baghdad in front of the main bus station , one civilian was injured and a number of car were burnt. · in al shabaka square in Palestine street eastern Baghdad unknown gunmen stopped 3 vehicles that belongs to the government , 2 of these vehicles had 4 members of al kadhumiyah municipality council members , 3 members were kidnapped and the fourth was killed by the gunmen . · today 32 dead bodies were found in all over Baghdad , 1 Palestine street , 1 sader city , 4 hurriyah , 4 dora , 4 shoala , 3 amil , 2 mansour , 2 abu atsheer , 3 adil , 2 bayaa , 1 aalam , 1 saidiyah , 2 maamon and 2 in furat . DIYALA province . · according to a governmental source from baladroz area 45km eastern baquab that the security forces have arrested one of the terrorist AMEER , called HAMEED SHIHAB [ ebn mahia] he was arrested when the Iraqi forces made a raid in al dainiah area . · according to a source from diyala tribal council that the takfiri armed group assassin sheikh satar mohammed al khidhran [ sheikh of al baiat tribe ] and one of his relative who was with him when they were near al zihirat village when unknown gunmen opened fire at their vehicle . · the same sorece said that the multinational forces arrested last night sheikh yas al timimi [ one of the sheikhs of timim tribes] with out giving more details . · according to a police source from diyala police directorate that a force from diyal police directorate arrested this afternoon a group of terrorists [ 12 terrorists ] they were responsible for displacing families from baquba city , this arrest was done in al tahreer , mafraq and al gatoon neighborhoods western baquba . KARKUK province . According to brigadier sarhad kader the chief police of sectors and areas in karkuk that 4 people were arrested according to an intelligence information that those people are engaged in some operations against the Iraqi forces , 15 different kind of weapons were found with them and 2 vehicles .

Reuters Alertnet

US officials split over troop surge in Iraq -paper 19 Dec 2006 06:08:41 GMT Source: Reuters WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - As President George W. Bush weighs options for changing course in Iraq, his administration is split over the concept of sending in more troops, The Washington Post ... Full article
Iraq strife worst yet, militia big threat-Pentagon 19 Dec 2006 00:33:44 GMT Source: Reuters (Adds quotes, more report details) By Andrew Gray WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Attacks in Iraq on U.S.-led forces, local security personnel and civilians have surged 22 percent to record levels ... Full article
Attacks in Iraq at all-time high - Pentagon 18 Dec 2006 22:01:03 GMT Source: Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attacks in Iraq on U.S.-led forces, local security personnel and civilians in the three months to Nov. 10 have surged 22 percent over the previous three months to reach an all- ... Full article
New Pentagon chief warns against failure in Iraq 18 Dec 2006 21:22:10 GMT Source: Reuters (Adds Bush quote) By Kristin Roberts WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Robert Gates, sworn in as U.S. defense secretary on Monday, said he understood the desire to bring troops home but that failure ... Full article
FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 18 18 Dec 2006 20:54:07 GMT Source: Reuters Dec 18 (Reuters) - Following are security and other developments in Iraq as of 2015 GMT on Monday: * denotes new or updated item. * BAGHDAD - Police found 44 bodies in various parts of Baghdad ... Full article
U.S. military to announce Haditha charges Thursday 18 Dec 2006 19:49:07 GMT Source: Reuters WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. military plans to charge Marines in the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, on Thursday, according to sources familiar with the case. The November 2005 ... Full article
Divided Iraq would only increase violence -Erdogan 18 Dec 2006 19:23:54 GMT Source: Reuters UNITED NATIONS, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Iraq is in the midst of a civil war and carving it up would only increase the level of violence, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of neighboring Turkey said on Monday, ... Full article

IRAQ: Palestinian refugees fear for their lives after recent attack

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© Afif Sarhan/IRIN

Palestinian refugees in Iraq face daily death threats to leave the country, but have nowhere to go.

BAGHDAD, 17 Dec 2006 (IRIN) - Palestinian refugees living in Iraq say there is increasing fear in their community after a recent attack on a predominantly Palestinian Baghdad neighbourhood left nine people dead and several injured, including children.

"We are getting worried about our situation in Iraq. We cannot leave the country because the borders are closed to us and the government doesn't give us any hope that it can increase our security," said Ahmed Muffitlak, spokesman for the Baghdad-based Palestinian Muslims Association (PMA).

On 13 December, local militia attacked the al-Baladiya district of the capital, where hundreds of Palestinians have lived for years. No attempt was made by the Iraqi police or multinational forces to halt the three-hour attack, Muffitlak said, adding that the militia stopped ambulances entering the area and attacked anyone who tried to enter or leave without their authorisation.

"Many elderly people got seriously sick just from the tension [of the situation] and some children were injured. When a father tried to take his six-year-old son to hospital, the fighters killed him, leaving the child in the street bleeding," Muffitlak said.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was appalled by this violent attack by armed militia and appealed to the international community to provide a solution for Palestinians attempting to flee Iraq.

"We are very alarmed by this attack and dismayed by the lack of protection given to Palestinians in Iraq. They have very limited freedom of movement and no possibility to leave the country - unlike Iraqis - to find a safe haven, nor any community to protect them," Radhouane Nouicer, UNHCR's Geneva-based deputy director for the region, said in a statement on 14 December.

Urgent protection needed

"We are urgently appealing to the Iraqi government and the multinational forces to provide protection and safety or an alternative safe location for this targeted group. We also ask the world to stop turning their back and provide a humane solution and safe haven to these people who have no way out," Nouicer added.

The Iraqi government has responded by saying that violence in the country is not only directed towards Palestinians but to everyone living in Iraq.

"We are really worried about the safety not only for Palestinians but also for all Iraqis and foreigners in our country and we are working hard to catch all these groups that are taking the lives of hundreds of innocent people," Lt Col Saeed Abdel-Fatah, a Ministry of Interior officer, said.

IRIN contacted a spokeswoman for the Multinational Forces in Iraq on the subject of the safety of Palestinians living there but has received no response as yet.

Palestinians in Iraq have lived under a degree of fear since the US-led occupation of Iraq began in 2003. As Sunnis under Israeli occupation in their homeland, they were afforded privileged status under former president Saddam Hussein's government - a factor which is now pitting them against the formally marginalised Shi'ite community in Iraq.

But ever since Sunni militants attacked a Shi'ite shrine in the northern city of Samarra in February this year, Palestinians have been increasingly targeted as sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims escalated.

Dozens of cases of the kidnappings and killings of Palestinians have been reported by UNHCR and local NGOs in the past few months.

"We have received reports of more than 500 threats against Palestinians and many cases of murders as well as women and youths being raped," Muffitlak said, adding that leaflets with death threats were left outside doors in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Baghdad, prompting hundreds to flee to the Syria-Iraq border.

Muffitlak said that most embassies in the country have stopped taking documents from Palestinians trying to arrange foreign visas. "We have called the UNHCR for help in taking every Palestinian out of Iraq before they get killed. But the organisation said that it is having great difficulty getting authorisation from foreign and Arab countries," he said.

UNHCR said it has approached resettlement countries, but so far positive responses have only been forthcoming from Canada, which has taken 64 Palestinians who were stranded in a Jordanian refugee camp for years. Syria took in 287 Palestinians in May 2006, before closing its borders to other desperate Palestinians, according to the latest UNHCR press release.

In 2003, UNHCR registered 23,000 of an estimated 34,000 Palestinians living in Iraq. Today, less than 15,000 Palestinians are believed to remain in the country.

as/ar/sz/ed

[ENDS]

Copyright © IRIN 2006
The material contained on www.IRINnews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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