Fallujah’s displaced endure ‘inhuman’ conditions

fallujah

Thousands of families who continue to flee Fallujah face a ‘catastrophic’ situation, aid workers say.

That was the headline from an article in Al Jazeera.  And there’s this from UPI:

BAGHDAD, June 22 (UPI) — Families in Iraq who fled fighting in Fallujah are now living in dangerous conditions, with some sleeping in the open desert as food, water and supplies run low.

More than 85,000 people have escaped Fallujah in recent weeks as Iraqi security forces battled to seize control of Iraq’s second-largest city away from the Islamic State. The surge in internally displaced people seeking aid in camps near Fallujah have further strained the supplies of humanitarian agencies.

“Women are sleeping on the bare ground here … My family has been here for five days and we have no water, only one blanket shared by seven people,” Saleh, an Iraqi man from Fallujah, told the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Only today they filled the water tank … why is this happening to us? Let the United Nations help us and come and see how much we are suffering, let them see what we’re going through.”

The surge in fleeing families is attributed to IS militants retreating from checkpoints in the city. The militants killed or captured civilians who attempted to flee Fallujah.

Humanitarian agencies warn temperatures nearing 120 degrees Fahrenheit have threatened the lives of children, pregnant woman, the elderly and disabled people.

Iraqi officials said at least 2,500 Islamic State militants have been killed in the past month since Iraqi security forces began the offensive. At least 4.4 million people in Iraq are internally displaced.

“What we’re seeing is the consequence of a delayed and heavily underfunded response with an extreme toll on the civilians fleeing from one nightmare and living through another one,” Norwegian Refugee Council Director Nasr Muflahi said in a statement. “The situation is deteriorating by the day and people are going to die in those camps unless essential aid arrives now. Fallujah may have been retaken but its citizens are facing a catastrophe.

Catastrophe…
Humanitarian Disaster…
Nightmare…
Inhuman…

How can we stand by and let this happen?  Please click the link below to help!!:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

The Families of Fallujah Need Help NOW

families fallujah

A “new nightmare” read one headline of an article about the growing humanitarian crisis in Fallujah. Aid workers are increasingly frustrated, and rightly so:

Nasr Muflahi, the director of the NRC’s mission in Iraq, said: “What we’re seeing is the consequence of a delayed and heavily underfunded response with an extreme toll on the civilians fleeing from one nightmare and living through another one.

“The situation is deteriorating by the day and people are going to die in those camps unless essential aid arrives now. Fallujah may have been retaken but its citizens are facing a catastrophe.

“The governments engaged in this battle have the responsibility to provide the funding and the resources needed for the tens of thousands of innocent women, children and men displaced and left out on their own.”

Please donate to the Norwegian Refugee Council through my fundraiser. Click here:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

Please…

 

Families Fleeing Fallujah Face More Hardship

There have been many reports about the civilians trying to flee the fighting in Fallujah. I have read of families drowning as they try to leave the city on makeshift rafts, I have read that now there may be 90,000 civilians trapped inside the city as opposed to the 50,000 originally thought to be there.And I have read that civilians who have managed to escape have been subjected to abuse from the very people who are supposedly there to save them. (This piece from Human Rights Watch outlines the abuses that have been reported).

families fleeing on river in Fallujah

When I started this blog I was outraged by the lack of knowledge about the increase in birth defects and cancers that had occurred after the US invasion. I wanted to bring awareness, and through that awareness some funding to help the families that were coping with the burdens that go along with raising a child with special needs. I also wanted the US to take some responsibility.

Now, these very families are fleeing for their lives, many still trapped inside the city with no food, dirty water, no way out. Others have died trying to escape, or have been beaten. ENOUGH, enough of the suffering!!   I can only hope that their nightmare ends soon, and all I can do is to try to raise funds so that the aid workers at the Norwegian Refugee Council can at least provide food, clean water and shelter. Please click the link below and consider giving what you can:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

 

Please Help the Families of Fallujah

I created a fundraiser through the Norwegian Refugee Council to help the families of Fallujah who are trapped and starving. Please, dear readers of my blog, donate what you can. Thank you.

 

 

No safe routes for civilians trapped inside Fallujah

Fallujah has been in the news a lot over the past few days with stories such as this one  titled “Mixed Iraqi force prepares for push into militant stronghold of Fallujah” and this one  titled ‘A new formula in the battle for Fallujah”. And of course there are stories like this one that talks about “re-taking” Fallujah (at least the headline is a good one: “The latest battle in Fallujah is a symbol of the futility of US efforts in Iraq”).

But this is the one I want everyone to see:

No safe routes for civilians trapped inside Fallujah

As military operations to retake the besieged town of Fallujah continue, thousands of civilian families are trapped in the fighting with no safe route out, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned today. The lock-down for civilians trying to flee continued last night with no more families confirmed to have safely reached out of town. As of Tuesday morning, up to 50,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in Fallujah since military operations began yesterday.

NRC staff working in displacement camps outside the town say only 80 families have managed to flee to safety just hours before the fighting began.

“Nobody else seems to have been allowed out of town; there are thousands trapped in Fallujah with intense fighting raging on their doorsteps,” said NRC’s Country Director in Iraq, Nasr Muflahi.

“Families who have been suffering food and medical shortages over the last months now risk being caught in the crossfire, and it is absolutely vital that they are granted safe routes out of there so that we can assist them. All parties to this conflict have to provide safe exits for civilians.”

The few families who have managed to flee to safety in displacement camps speak of a dangerous journey out of the town ahead of the military operations. They have sought safety in camps in Amiryiat Al Fallujah, around 30kms away from Fallujah’s centre. NRC is present providing the newly displaced families with emergency water, food parcels and hygiene kits.

It is estimated that as many as 7,000 families will be internally displaced within Fallujah if the intense fighting continues. Iraq is facing a complex and multiple displacement crisis with more than 1.1 million people displaced inside Iraq last year alone. A staggering total of 3.4 million people are currently internally displaced across the country.

 

#Fallujah_Is_Starving

Fallujah is starving.  Has been starving. And no one listened to their cries for a long time…

But at least it seems that people are finally noticing: Here is another article, from Vox:

http://www.vox.com/2016/4/9/11393406/isis-fallujah-siege

I hope that those with the power to stop this human atrocity will do something, anything. Please spread the word and contact your representatives…these people have suffered enough.

fallujah starving

 

Human Rights Watch Statement on Fallujah

Human Rights Watch issued this release on the situation in Fallujah:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/07/iraq-fallujah-siege-starving-population

Iraq: Fallujah Siege Starving Population

Government Forces Block Aid; ISIS Bars Civilian Flight

(Beirut) – Residents of the besieged city of Fallujah are starving. Iraqi government forces should urgently allow aid to enter the city, and the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which captured the city in early 2014, should allow civilians to leave.

“The people of Fallujah are besieged by the government, trapped by ISIS, and are starving,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “The warring parties should make sure that aid reaches the civilian population.”

Since government forces recaptured nearby Ramadi, the capital of Anbar governorate, in late December 2015, and the al-Jazira desert area north of Fallujah in March 2016, they have cut off supply routes into the city, three Iraqi officials said. Tens of thousands of civilians from an original population of more than 300,000 remain inside the city.

Human Rights Watch has not had access to Fallujah, and it is very difficult to get information from the remaining residents because ISIS prohibits the use of mobile phones and the Internet. Residents sometimes manage to catch a cell tower signal at night and are able to respond to some messages, including several that Human Rights Watch relayed via rights activists in Baghdad. Human Rights Watch was recently able to speak with one person in Fallujah and to seven others from the area who are in contact with people there.

Iraqi activists who are in touch with Fallujah families said that people were reduced to eating flat bread made with flour from ground date seeds and soups made from grass. What little food remains is being sold at exorbitant prices. A 50-kilogram sack of flour goes for US$750, and a bag of sugar for $500, whereas in Baghdad, 70 kilometers to the east, the same amount of flour costs $15 and of sugar $40, one Fallujah resident said. In late March 2016, a Fallujah medical source told Human Rights Watch that each day starving children arrive at the local hospital and that most foodstuffs are no longer available at any price.

An Iraqi official in touch with some Fallujah families provided Human Rights Watch with a list of 140 people, many elderly and young children, whom the official said had died over the past few months from lack of food and medicine. The official did not want the names of the dead published for fear that ISIS, which prohibits contacting people outside the city, would punish relatives of the dead.

A new campaign, “Fallujah Is Being Killed by Starvation,” has sought to draw attention to the impact of the siege. In one recent video that Baghdad-based activists provided to Human Rights Watch, an unidentifiable woman says she is from Fallujah and that her children are dying because there is no rice, no flour – not even local dates – and the hospital has run out of baby food.

The Facebook account “Fallujah is my city” (“فلوجة مدينتي”) posted a video on March 23, 2016, showing several lifeless bodies in a body of water. Baghdad-based activists said that it shows a mother who drowned herself and her two children because she could not find food. Another activist from Fallujah, now based in Iraqi Kurdistan, corroborated this account based on information from relatives still in Fallujah.

On March 24, the World Food Programme said that it remained “concerned about the food security situation in besieged Fallujah, [where] many food items were unavailable in markets.”

Iraqi government troops and the Popular Mobilization Forces, an auxiliary paramilitary force, are keeping shipments of food and other goods from reaching the city, two Iraqi officials and other sources said. The Defense Ministry, Baghdad Joint Operations Command, and Popular Mobilization Commission did not respond to Human Rights Watch requests for comment.

Civilians inside Fallujah have been unable to leave, Human Rights Watch said. An Iraqi lawyer who has maintained phone contacts with people in the city told Human Rights Watch that on March 22, ISIS executed a man for trying to leave the day before. “He walked straight up to the ISIS checkpoint and told them he wanted to leave because he couldn’t take the situation any longer,” the lawyer said. “ISIS brought him into town and executed him.”

Three people with connections in Fallujah informed Human Rights Watch in late February that ISIS had executed a family trying to leave. Their extended family revolted against ISIS, and ISIS then jailed more than 100 men taking part. A journalist with sources inside Fallujah confirmed that ISIS was preventing people from leaving and punishing those trying to do so. On March 30, the Popular Mobilization Forces said that ISIS had executed 35 civilians in Fallujah for trying to escape.

“Islamic State has shown utter disregard for protecting civilians in conflict,” Stork said. “It should not add mass starvation to its miserable record and should immediately allow civilians to leave Fallujah.”

Lise Grande, the United Nations deputy special representative in Iraq, said on February 20 that, “people are trying to leave the city but are prevented from doing so.” A local official told Human Rights Watch on March 25 that the government had opened three exit routes for civilians in Fallujah to flee the city, which Anbar governor Suhaib al-Rawi repeated in a March 29 report in Al-Sabah newspaper. However, Baghdad-based activists said that ISIS was still blocking civilians from leaving.

The laws of war do not prohibit sieges of a belligerent’s military forces. However, they doprohibit starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare, which is a war crime. Both sides also need to take all feasible steps to evacuate the civilian population from the vicinity of military objectives.

Parties to a conflict are prohibited from attacking objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food and medical supplies, agricultural areas, and drinking water installations. They are obligated to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need, and may not deliberately block humanitarian aid or restrict the freedom of movement of humanitarian relief personnel.

In 1998, Iraq reported to the International Committee of the Red Cross on its application of the laws of war that, “refraining from the use of embargoes on food and medicine as a weapon by one of the conflicting parties is a fixed and established principle which has been applied by the Iraqi armed forces in armed conflicts.”

Civilians in Fallujah have also suffered considerable harm from the fighting, Human Rights Watch said. Government aircraft and artillery have carried out numerous attacks, which Fallujah residents say have killed many civilians. Neighbors reported to one former resident that on November 27, 2015, bombings killed 12 people in his neighborhood, including nine children. On August 13, aerial bombs struck Fallujah’s children’s hospital, killing several people, a relative of a staff member of the hospital told Human Rights Watch. A medical source in the city, whose information Human Rights Watch could not confirm, said that since January 2014, 5,769 combatants and civilians have been injured and 3,455 killed, roughly one-fourth of them women and children.

“The humanitarian picture in Fallujah is bleak and getting bleaker,” Stork said. “Greater international attention to the besieged towns and cities of the region is needed or the results for civilians could be calamitous.”