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IRIN Middle East | Middle East | MIDDLE EAST | MIDDLE EAST: MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 36 for 19-25 August 2005 | Children, Democracy, Economy, Education, Food Security, Gender issues, Health, Human Rights, Peace Security, Refugees IDPs | Weekly
Sunday 25 December 2005
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MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 36 for 19-25 August 2005

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

Key Humanitarian Developments in Iraq

A power failure at oil refineries in southern Iraq on Monday cost the country an estimated US $4 million an hour, according to officials.

Oil exports were stopped after a power cut left much of the country without electricity. Iraq relies on oil exports from the south – where 1.5 million barrels are pumped daily – for much of its revenue, which also goes towards reconstruction.

In a positive development, 11 Pakistani workers kidnapped last week were released officials in Islamabad confirmed on Monday. They were employed by a Kuwaiti construction company and were abducted by unknown assailants in the south.

"We have just been informed by the Kuwaiti company that all 11 Pakistanis have been freed," said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Naeem Khan, according to a BBC report.

This was the fourth time Pakistanis have been targeted in Iraq, prompting the government to once again call on its citizens not to travel to the country.

Kidnappings of foreign workers in Iraq by insurgents and criminals has become a common occurance.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch (HRW)called on the UK to stop plans to return failed asylum-seekers to Iraq due to current unsafe conditions there.

The Home Office confirmed on 15 August that the authorities are detaining failed asylum seekers in preparation for deportation to Iraq, but has declined to provide numbers, HRW said.

According to the Refugee Council, a London-based NGO, 43 Iraqis had been detained as of 13 August. Press reports indicate that the number now may be as high as 100.

Finally, the United Nations held a minute of silence in offices all around the world in tribute to the 22 people killed in the deadly 19 August terrorist bombing of its Baghdad headquarters in 2003.

Former top UN envoy in Iraq Sergio Sergio Vieira de Mello was killed in the attack, and hundreds of others were injured.

"They were courageous and unstinting in their devotion to helping people in impoverished and war-torn lands build better lives. Their commitment and achievements made all of us proud to work for the United Nations," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message in New York.


IRAQ: People falling ill from contaminated water
IRAQ: Condemnation of scheduled executions
IRAQ: Constitution draft approval unclear
IRAQ: Focus on progress made in marshlands
IRAQ: Food distribution shortage remains a concern, survey says
EGYPT: Focus on second week of campaigning
YEMEN: Vaccination campaign kicks off as polio cases rise
LEBANON: Traders take financial blow after bombing
LEBANON: Economic concerns remain following border ease
SYRIA: Active promotion of gender equality in rural areas

IRAQ: People falling ill from contaminated water

Numerous cases of people falling ill from contaminated water in districts across Baghdad have been reported by local doctors and the Ministry of Public Works this week. “We have registered dozens of cases of people falling ill from dirty water in the past four days and we have found that the water used was from taps water inside the homes,” Dr Hassan Adnan, a paediatrician at Yarmouk Hospital, said.

Full report

IRAQ: Condemnation of scheduled executions

International human rights groups have condemned the passing down of the first death sentence in Iraq since US-led forces invaded the country in April 2003 and ousted former leader Saddam Hussein. Three men will be executed in the first week of September, officials said. The death penalty, which was used to punish criminals during Hussein’s regime, was abolished by US forces in 2003, but reinstated in August 2004 during the rule of former prime minister, Iyad Allawi.

Full report

IRAQ: Constitution draft approval unclear

As Humam Hamoudi, chairman of the Constitution Committee, presented the disputed draft to the transitional National Assembly on 22 August, it did not take long for disagreements to appear, with Sunni participants labelling the draft illegal and unfair. "The constitution has been presented without consensus and there are still many points that should be revised again. For this reason we have rejected the present draft. Shi’ites and Kurds have to remember that they cannot decide the country’s life without total inclusion,” Nasser al-Janabi, a Sunni member, said.

Full report

IRAQ: Focus on progress made in marshlands

Hasan Aloki, a marsh Arab, looked at his empty boat after a long working day and gave a big sigh. “Years ago I was filling this boat with good fish and supporting my family with good food by selling my daily catch, but after years of suppression from the ex-regime and the slow re-flooding of the marshes we are still struggling,” he said. There are increasing calls for quicker flooding and rehabilitation of Iraq’s southern marshlands in Amarah, due to rising unemployment and delays in the return of the marsh Arabs.

Full report

IRAQ: Food distribution shortage remains a concern, survey says

Food shortages have been reported in northern and western Iraq by local NGOs. The town of Talafar, north east of the Mosul governorate and near the Syrian border in the western Anbar governorate, are worst affected following military operations there. US forces are fighting insurgents in both areas.

Full report

EGYPT: Focus on second week of campaigning

After over a week of campaigning the Egyptian people have been greeted to the unfamiliar sight of several different presidential candidates asking for their vote. This is the first time the country has ever had multi-candidate presidential campaign. Candidates have held several election events throughout the country since 15 August explaining their platforms and calling on citizens to vote for them. Election day is 7 September.

Full report

YEMEN: Vaccination campaign kicks off as polio cases rise

The number of confirmed polio cases in Yemen soared to 426, from 300 reported in July, amounting to three quarters of the world’s total number of cases. In response to the recent increase, another nationwide vaccination campaign kicked off on Monday targeting some 4 million children below the age of five years. Officials said immunisation would continue to until new cases stop being registered.

Full report

LEBANON: Traders take financial blow after bombing

The latest blast to hit yet another commercial neighbourhood of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, has been a blow to local businesses, costing them around $50 million in losses, according to Lebanese officials. A powerful explosion rocked Lebanon on Tuesday after weeks of calm, bringing fear and chaos to the country’s capital. The bomb injured eight people, but there were no fatalities.

Full report

LEBANON: Economic concerns remain following border ease

As Lebanese trucks started to cross the border into Syria last week, following several months of being stranded at checkpoints, fears remain that the crisis is far from over. Stricter Syrian customs inspections starting last June resulted in a massive backup of trucks carrying Lebanese products out of the country in July. According to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, however, the problem is now resolved.

Full report

SYRIA: Active promotion of gender equality in rural areas

Men and women from local communities, NGOs and key decision makers in eastern Syria agreed in a recent workshop to actively promote gender equity and empower women in their respective governorates. Iyad al-Dakhil, deputy director of planning in the Deir Ezzor governorate said that the workshop gave women a platform to discuss and call for their rights to be respected.

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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