The noose has tightened around Iraq’s beleaguered people — at least those who haven’t already taken sides in the uncivil war between Sunnis and Shi’ites. Those who are fleeing are being denied asylum — even those Iraqis who have helped the “coalition.” Those who haven’t fled can’t get aid.
The latest news today from IRIN, the U.N.’s dogged news service:
Hell, in the triple-digit heat they can’t even get electricity. Yesterday, IRIN reported:
The only real surge is an ominously increasing polarization of Iraqis, as today’s IRIN story points out:
“Sunni volunteers are being sent to Sunni neighbourhoods and Shia to Shia areas,” he added.
Ahmed recently became vice-president of the IAA after Jamal Hussein, the former vice-president, was killed while delivering aid in a Baghdad suburb.
“He was killed because he was a Shia helping Sunni families. For this reason we prefer to send volunteers to areas where at least they can be welcomed,” he said.
As if mad bombers weren’t enough of a threat, it’s Iraqi vs. Iraqi, Muslim vs. Muslim. Here’s more:
“Dora, Sadr City, Adhamiyah, Alawi, Batawin, Hayfa and Hurryia are the most dangerous places,” Mayada said.
“We had to stop using cars with emblems of our aid organisation to prevent us being targeted,” she said. “We have to carry the supplies in small cars making many trips, each time taking a different route.”
Mayada and Ahmed agreed that Baghdad had never been so violent, and aid had never been so hard to deliver. They said many local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had stopped their operations after being targeted.
“The easiest way for them [armed groups] to make you stop your work is by kidnapping one of your volunteers. Since December 2006 when Iraqi Red Crescent staff were kidnapped, we have become scared and have had to adopt a low profile in our work, delivering aid according to which areas are safe, rather than which ones have more needs,” Mayada said.
“Some aid agencies have moved to northern areas of Iraq to continue their work in relative safety, even if the needs there are less than in Baghdad,” Ahmed said.
Even the reviled U.S. presence in Iraq is no longer unifying Iraqis. Unplug your iPod and imagine yourself in Baghdad.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 22, 2007