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IRIN Middle East | Middle East | MIDDLE EAST | MIDDLE EAST: MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 26 for 10-16 June 2005 | Children, Democracy, Education, Food Security, Gender issues, Health, HIV AIDS, Human Rights, Peace Security, Refugees IDPs | Weekly
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MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 26 for 10-16 June 2005

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

Key Humanitarian Developments in Iraq

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier this week that security in Iraq had not improved statistically since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003, the BBC reported.

Rumsfeld said foreign insurgents had crossed Iraq's "porous" borders from Iran, Syria and other places.

However, he added that Iraqi security forces were being boosted and was confident the ongoing insurgency would be stopped. His comments come at a time when incidents of violence show no sign of abating.

“More than 900 people, mostly Iraqis, have died in insurgent attacks across the country since the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafaari took office six weeks ago,” the BBC report added.

Meanwhile, Australian hostage Douglas Wood was rescued after being held for six weeks in Iraq, the international media reported on Wednesday. The 63-year-old engineer was abducted in April and was released in a raid by Iraqi military and backed by US forces.

His captors had demanded that Australia pull its 1,400 troops out of Iraq.

But Canberra said it would not bow down to terrorist threats and had no plans to withdraw its soldiers from the country.

A French journalist who was held hostage for five months was also released on 11 June along with her Iraqi guide. Florence Aubenas said she was kept blindfolded in a basement cell and was beaten. Her guide, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, was reunited with his family in Baghdad.

The identity of the kidnappers in both cases remains unknown.
As the political process continues, the UN Secretary-General's
Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, met Prime Minister Jaafari on Tuesday to discuss the new constitution.

“Qazi has been holding wide-ranging talks in Iraq in recent days about the ongoing political process and the risk of political fragmentation as the country heads towards the 15 August deadline for drafting its final constitution,” a UN statement said.

Qazi also briefed the Prime Minister on preparations made by the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) for the upcoming Brussels international conference on Iraq.

The US and European Union (EU) will co-host the event on 22 June, which will serve as a forum for the new Iraqi transitional government to present its priorities for the period leading up to the next round of elections in late 2005.

In a sign of growing tension in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Reuters reported Arab officials as saying that more than 250 Arabs and dozens of Turkmen people had been arrested in raids by US and Iraqi forces. The report added that the detainees were sent to prisons in northern Iraq.

There has been increasing tension in the city after Kurds thrown out by Saddam, as part of the Arabisation programme, returned to reclaim homes and land given to Arabs by the former leader.

The report added that Kurdish police denied arrests were made on ethnic grounds but confirmed that some people arrested had been sent to Kurdish prisons.

"We have documents and information confirming that around 250 people are detained in Kurdish prisons in Arbil and Sulaimaniyah," Obeidi told Reuters in the city.


IRAQ: Journalists call for greater freedom
IRAQ: NGO calls for greater facilitation for aid work
IRAQ: Internet exam results aid transparency
IRAQ: New radio station for women goes on the air
IRAQ: Increase in TB cases worrying, doctors say
YEMEN: Polio vaccination “highly successful,” say the health ministry
EGYPT: Focus on pro-democracy movement in referendum aftermath
JORDAN: NGO’s reaffirm commitment to Iraq

IRAQ: Journalists call for greater freedom

Iraqi journalists called for greater press freedom and respect for their profession at a conference held in the capital, Baghdad on 14-15 June. The event was organised by the independent Iraqi National Communication and Media Commission (INCMC), following reported cases of abuse of journalists. The body was formed after the fall of the former government in April 2003.

Full report

IRAQ: NGO calls for greater facilitation for aid work

The NGO Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) has called for greater facilitation of humanitarian work in Iraq as well as guarantees of basic human rights for local people and aid workers during security operations. "Humanitarian work in Iraq has not been respected to any extent by the Multi-National Forces (MNF) [the US-led Coalition] and Iraqi security forces. Humanitarian work has been delayed due to unacceptable behaviour and the Iraqi population is suffering from this action," ICS spokeswoman, Catherine Dickehage, told IRIN from the Italian capital, Rome.

Full report

IRAQ: Internet exam results aid transparency

Exam results for bachelor university degrees in Iraq will be released on the internet this year in an effort to increase transparency and because of continuing insecurity. "We are now in a democratic country and results on the internet will help to prevent students from getting extra marks and cheating as it will go directly from the correction room to the internet site with final approval from the ministry of education," general director of baccalaureate exams at the Ministry of Education (MoE), Sabah al-Jaffe, said.

Full report

IRAQ: New radio station for women goes on the air

A radio station focusing on women’s issues has hit the airwaves in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Topics under discussion include the importance of women’s rights and the new constitution, the forthcoming general election, childhood needs and family problems. "The radio station is a voice for Iraqi women in the country, a voice to speak about her rights, her issues, her ambitions, her problems without hesitation," manager of the radio station, Majed Rahak, said.

Full report

IRAQ: Increase in TB cases worrying, doctors say

Iraqi doctors say they are concerned over an increase in Tuberculosis (TB) cases in the southeastern city of Amarah, fuelled by a shortage of medicine and poor living conditions. The disease, which has been under control in the area for more than 50 years, has been rising steadily since the conflict in 2003. A survey of living conditions, released by the UN and the Iraqi government in May, stressed that standards had seriously deteriorated over the past two years with poor access to clean water or adequate healthcare.

Full report


Syria is a low prevalence-rate country for HIV/AIDS but in spite of this, efforts to tackle the issue are being stepped up. The aim is to try and prevent the disease spreading through lack of awareness, particularly among young people. "I do not want to die because of ignorance. I want to lead a better life. I am aware that inadequate information about the transmission of this disease and not receiving proper counselling could leave us to suffer in silence and not seek help," Suha, who only gave her first name, said as she took an AIDS test at a centre for counselling young people.

Full report

YEMEN: Polio vaccination “highly successful,” say the health ministry

A nationwide polio vaccination campaign in Yemen to control a recent outbreak has been “highly successful”, according to health officials. The figures indicate good coverage, according to Dr Ali Al-Mudhwahi, head of family health at the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Full report

EGYPT: Focus on pro-democracy movement in referendum aftermath

Pro-democracy and human rights organisations are holding weekly candlelight vigils in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to demand an official apology for violence during the constitutional referendum in May. A number of women said they were sexually assaulted when clashes broke out between supporters of President Hosni Mubarak and their opponents.

Full report

JORDAN: NGO’s reaffirm commitment to Iraq

NGOs working in Iraq have agreed on the need for stronger advocacy and the need to create safe space for humanitarian work, following a conference held in the Jordanian capital, Amman. "We (NGOs) aim to provide independent and universal humanitarian and development assistance solely based on Iraqi people’s needs, rights and interests," Kasra Mofarah, executive coordinator of the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) 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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