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IRIN Middle East | Middle East | MIDDLE EAST | MIDDLE EAST: MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 25 for 3-9 June 2005 | Children, Democracy, Economy, Gender issues, Health, Human Rights, Peace Security, Refugees IDPs | Weekly
Sunday 25 December 2005
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MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 25 for 3-9 June 2005

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Key Humanitarian Developments in Iraq

At least 12 Iraqis were killed, most of them soldiers, and 19 wounded on Tuesday in a trio of car bomb attacks against army checkpoints around the northern town of Hawijah, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

The blasts struck virtually simultaneously at around 9:30 am (0530 GMT), targeting checkpoints on the northern, western and eastern entrances of the Sunni Muslim town.

The Iraqi government this week announced that around 887 people have been arrested during a two-week crackdown on the insurgency in the capital, Baghdad. The BBC on Tuesday quoted government spokesman Leith Kubba as saying the blitz had not dealt a "knockout blow" to the insurgency, but signalled its "slow death".

Meanwhile, a prominent Iraqi Sunni politician this week said two insurgent groups were ready to disarm and begin talks with the government.

Former minister Ayham al-Samarie had reportedly made contact with the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Mujahideen Army, both of which are said to represent more than 50 percent of the resistance.

The Islamic Army has claimed responsibility for several attacks and for taking hostages.

The government says it is going to double the salaries of university professors as part of a bid to stem the brain drain in the country.

A government spokesman told the BBC there was little in reality that could be done to solve the problem. Under Saddam Hussein around 4 million people are thought to have left, among them some of Iraq's top professionals.

The Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) on Tuesday said it was seriously concerned by the recent deterioration in security conditions, noting increased violence affecting civilians and humanitarian personnel.

The ICS claimed that non-discriminatory military measures taken by the Multinational Force and the Iraqi security forces had drastically jeopardised the assistance work of the humanitarian organisations, at a time when it was most needed.

The NGO, one of the few still operating in the country, pointed to a recent shooting around Ramadi on 1 June by MNF troops, without prior warning, at an ICS water trucking convoy marked as humanitarian relief.


IRAQ: Emergency polio campaign to be launched
IRAQ: Poor power supply infrastructure threatens lives
IRAQ: Growing frustration among returnees
IRAQ: Ongoing insecurity hampers landmine clearance
EGYPT: Long battle ahead to end female circumcision
JORDAN: Travel restrictions eased for visiting West Bank Palestinians
JORDAN: Censorship of books and publications eased
YEMEN: Aid agencies offer relief to conflict victims in Sa'ada

IRAQ: Emergency polio campaign to be launched

Health experts in Iraq are on high alert following reported outbreaks of polio in Yemen, Egypt and Sudan.

Plans are underway to launch a massive immunisation campaign in response, expected to reach 4.7 million children aged under five.

"For the past five years Iraq successfully controlled polio but, due to the outbreaks in the neighbouring countries, we have decided to vaccinate all children to prevent the re-emergence of the disease," Ahmed Abdul Khalak, a senior official in the ministry of health, told IRIN.

Full report

IRAQ: Poor power supply infrastructure threatens lives

With the onset of summer in Iraq there are increasing concerns that erratic power supplies could have a serious impact on the health of the local population.

Doctors in the capital, Baghdad, have pointed to a spike in the number of patients suffering from dehydration, and already three deaths have been reported among the elderly. During the summer months temperatures in Iraq sometimes reach 50 degrees Celsius.

"Every day we see an increase in the number of people looking for our services due to health problems caused by the lack of power," Dr Abbas Shaker, a clinician at Yarmouk hospital, told IRIN.

Full report

IRAQ: Growing frustration among returnees

The initial euphoria of returning to their homeland has turned into frustration for many Iraqi refugees, who are struggling to eke out a living in deteriorating social conditions.

"We left Iraq because of the injustice of Saddam [Hussein] and we came back to find ourselves homeless. My sons are jobless and we don't have money to buy a house, so we decided to live in the old naval academy," 60-year-old Um Hassan told IRIN.

Full report

IRAQ: Ongoing insecurity hampers landmine clearance

Ongoing insecurity in Iraq is hampering the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), forcing international organisations to leave the country or halt operations, experts told IRIN.

"The work in Iraq has become restricted for UN staff due to insecurity, which has increased every day in the country. We have been depending on private companies to support us, which have been doing great and efficient work in the south of Iraq," Salomon Schreuder, cluster manager of mine clearance for the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) told IRIN from the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Full report

EGYPT: Long battle ahead to end female circumcision

Deeply entrenched cultural and traditional norms continue to hamper efforts to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in parts of Egypt.

Female circumcision involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia for cultural, religious or other nonmedical reasons. It is usually performed on girls between the ages of four and 10.

A report released by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in May revealed that 92 percent of adolescent girls in six districts of Upper Egypt had been circumcised. Furthermore, one third of all girls in the region were expected to be circumcised at some stage in their lives.

Full report

JORDAN: Travel restrictions eased for visiting West Bank Palestinians

West Bank Palestinians wanting to visit relatives in neighbouring Jordan will no longer have to endure lengthy procedures at the border post after the recent removal of tight travel restrictions.

Entry into Jordan in future will be based on "personal undertaking", and Palestinian visitors will be allowed a month-long stay in the country, with the possibility of a two week extension, according to a senior Jordanian security official.

The new "travel pass", which came in effect on 1 June, has no age restrictions and is applicable to all Palestinians visiting the kingdom.

Full report

JORDAN: Censorship of books and publications eased

As a sign of its growing commitment to civil liberties, Jordan's ministry of culture recently announced that it would no longer censor local and international publications.

The state-controlled Publications and Publishing Department (PPD) has closely monitored books, newspapers and magazines for content that might be deemed offensive to the government, the royal family or religious groups, and all imported books had to be approved by the PPD before distribution inside the country.

In the capital, Amman, the acting general manager of the PPD, Ahmad Al Qudah, told IRIN that the recent move to allow greater press freedom was part of a broader strategy to create "space for creative expression".

Full report

YEMEN: Aid agencies offer relief to conflict victims in Sa'ada

Aid agencies say ongoing political instability in parts of northern Yemen is hampering the delivery of humanitarian assistance to communities affected by the most recent flare-up of hostilities between government troops and religious dissidents.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Yemeni Red Crescent Society (YRCS) said although they had managed to deliver aid to communities in Marran, the scene of intense fighting from June to September 2004, they were struggling to get aid to the other parts of Sa'ada province affected by the recent battles.

"We are concerned about the newly affected areas. I have requested a meeting with the governor of Sa'ada as soon as possible, to see what help we can provide to the people," he said.

Full report


 Theme(s) Children
Other recent MIDDLE EAST reports:

Appeal to Arab world to give more to world’s poorest,  16/Dec/05

MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 52 for 11–15 December 2005,  15/Dec/05

“Invisible” children suffering from neglect, says UNICEF,  15/Dec/05

MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 51 for 4 – 8 December 2005,  11/Dec/05

MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 50 for 25 November – 1 December,  2/Dec/05

Other recent Children reports:

WEST AFRICA: IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 309 covering 17 - 23 December 2005, 23/Dec/05

SIERRA LEONE: With no prospects, youths are turning to crime and violence, 22/Dec/05

SENEGAL: Everyman’s library, 21/Dec/05

LIBERIA: UN renews ban on arms, diamonds and timber, 21/Dec/05

NIGERIA: Eight children die in attack on oil pipeline, 21/Dec/05

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