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IRIN Middle East | Middle East | MIDDLE EAST | MIDDLE EAST: MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 41 for 24-29 September 2005 | Other | Weekly
Tuesday 21 February 2006
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MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 41 for 24-29 September 2005

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

Key Humanitarian Developments in Iraq

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) warned on Tuesday that the premature return of Iraqi refugees home could worsen tensions in the country and urged states not to withdraw protection for such refugees.

In an advisory note, UNHCR said despite the January 2005 elections, Iraqi authorities were still unable to protect citizens from violent attacks, including those specifically targeting civilians in southern and central Iraq. It also said access to basic services needed for a secure and stable life was not guaranteed.

"UNHCR encourages governments to postpone the introduction of measures which are intended to promote or induce voluntary returns for persons originating from southern or central Iraq," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said.

"Security conditions and absorption capacities for sustainable return should be in place before people are returned. Similarly, for those asylum seekers who are not recognized as refugees, some form of protection in keeping with international human rights principles should be given," he added.

Between 2003 and 2005, more than 253,000 people are estimated to have returned to Iraq, most of them spontaneously. More than 1.2 million people are estimated to be currently displaced inside Iraq – many of them sheltering in public buildings while another estimated 1.5 million live outside their home country, as refugees or migrants.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government announced on Monday a US $2.4 million grant for four projects – the Improvement of Chest Diseases and anti-Tuberculosis Center, Improvement of Allergy and Asthma Center, Improvement of Special Center for Dental Care and the Improvement of Medical Instruments for Central Health Laboratory.

Japan, in a statement, said medical institutions in Iraq were suffering from system failure, citing the Governorate of Al-Muthanna, where a lack of medical equipment and materials had made the provision of appropriate medical services difficult.

In another development, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned on Monday that the Iraqi constitutional process has deepened rifts between the three principal communities – Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis – creating a need for a strong United States-led initiative to assuage Sunni concerns and avoid further ethnic and sectarian violence.

In a report, the ICG said the 15 October referendum could well be about a weak document that lacks consensus and urged the US government to embark on a last-ditch, determined effort to broker a true compromise between the three communities.

The Sunni Arab minority has rejected the document which was approved by the country’s dominant Shiite and Kurdish blocs. They are particularly opposed to clauses on federalism, women’s rights, references to Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated Ba’ath party and the description of Iraq as a Muslim, but not Arab state.

Last week, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) urged Iraqis to participate in the referendum and called on the government to ensure conditions that would enable the people to vote in a peaceful and secure environment.

In a statement issued from Baghdad, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, said the recent adoption of a draft text for the permanent constitution of Iraq by the Transitional National Assembly was an important step.

UNAMI is printing 5 million copies and will distribute them before the referendum date.


IRAQ: UN distributes aid to Talafar families
IRAQ: Centres for burn victims to be established
IRAQ: Food operation under threat, WFP
IRAQ: Families flee Samara ahead of planned offensive
EGYPT: Mubarak promises more democracy
LEBANON: Attacks on journalists condemned
SYRIA: Eco-friendly park to help sustain water level
SYRIA: Child labour still rampant
SYRIA: New law to free up municipal elections
YEMEN: Religious leaders enlisted in fight against HIV/AIDS

IRAQ: UN distributes aid to Talafar families

The United Nations and its partners have delivered food and non-food items to over 16,000 people in the northern Iraqi city of Talafar where recent fighting between Coalition forces and insurgents displaced several thousand families, a UN statement said on Friday.

Full report

IRAQ: Centres for burn victims to be established

The Iraqi Ministry of Health has announced the construction of new centres to treat burn victims in the main hospitals of the capital, Baghdad and some other governorates.

Full report

IRAQ: Food operation under threat, WFP

The World Food Programme (WFP) has said that the operation to feed millions of people in Iraq is facing severe financial constraints.

Full report

IRAQ: Families flee Samara ahead of planned offensive

Hundreds of families have started to flee the Iraqi city of Samara, some 120km north of the capital, Baghdad, following a recent Ministry of Defense announcement that preparations had started for an offensive by Coalition forces against insurgents holed up there, officials said.

Full report

EGYPT: Mubarak promises more democracy

Hosni Mubarak was sworn in before the Egyptian parliament on Tuesday for a fifth term as president, promising to implement his campaign promises, including creating more jobs and building democracy in Egypt.

Full report

LEBANON: Attacks on journalists condemned

Lebanese journalists, shocked by a bomb attack that seriously injured a television talk show host on Sunday, have condemned the increasing attacks on their colleagues, as well as writers and intellectuals.

Full report

SYRIA: Eco-friendly park to help sustain water level

Syria’s first eco-friendly park, located in the capital Damascus, is nearing its final stages of completion with the actual seeding of indigenous plants from the local Barada river valley.

Full report

SYRIA: Child labour still rampant

From a distance, the children jumping up and down the colourful hills of trash in Jedaydet Artous, a suburb of Syria's capital, Damascus, look like ghosts. At closer range, however, it turns out they are rummaging through the litter in search of any valuables they can sell to support their families.

Full report

SYRIA: New law to free up municipal elections

A new law for local administration will allow Syrians in the next local elections to elect candidates of their choosing for the first time ever, according to government officials.

Full report

YEMEN: Religious leaders enlisted in fight against HIV/AIDS

Religious leaders from Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen have agreed to create a network to combat HIV/AIDS in their countries and produce plans that aim to, among other things, train hundreds of their colleagues to get involved in fighting the pandemic.

Full report


 Theme(s) Other
Other recent MIDDLE EAST reports:

MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 61 for 10 - 16 February 2006,  16/Feb/06

MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 60 for 3 - 9 February 2006,  12/Feb/06

Journalists hoping to improve reporting on HIV/AIDS,  9/Feb/06

MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 59 for 27 January - 2 February 2006,  5/Feb/06

Gulf support for quake likely to continue into reconstruction,  2/Feb/06

Other recent reports:

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Donors pledge support for humanitarian crisis, 21/Feb/06

ANGOLA: Ready to play larger security role in Africa, 21/Feb/06

CENTRAL ASIA: Weekly news wrap, 17/Feb/06

SOUTHERN AFRICA: IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 270 for 11-17 February 2006, 17/Feb/06

WEST AFRICA: IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 317 covering 11-17 February 2006, 17/Feb/06

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