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Iraq squatter camp population on the rise: UN


May 11, 2010 Ś The number of Iraqis who have fled their homes that are reduced to living in squatter camps has increased by 25 percent in the past year, a senior UN diplomat told AFP on Tuesday..."The number of IDPs in Iraq is 1.5 million, but of these 1.5 million, around 500,000 live in squatter camps," Endres said, noting that most IDPs live with host families. He added that the number in squatter camps had increased from an estimate of around 400,000 a year ago. Of the half million IDPs living in camps, an estimated 260,000 are in Baghdad. "Many people (living in camps) have run out of resources and, if there is nothing left, they end up in these places," he said...


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Iraq squatter camp population on the rise: UN

By Prashant Rao (AFP)

11-iraq-s.tqc1s69ie76j_ekblrnpbw.jpeg

An Iraqi man walks past sewage and rubbish in a squatter camp inhabited by internally displaced refugees


May 11, 2010

BAGHDAD Ś The number of Iraqis who have fled their homes that are reduced to living in squatter camps has increased by 25 percent in the past year, a senior UN diplomat told AFP on Tuesday.

Daniel Endres, Iraq representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said the total number of internally diplaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq officially remained at 1.5 million.

But he acknowledged that that figure was out of date and could actually be lower as many had returned to their homes in the past two years.

"The number of IDPs in Iraq is 1.5 million, but of these 1.5 million, around 500,000 live in squatter camps," Endres said, noting that most IDPs live with host families.

He added that the number in squatter camps had increased from an estimate of around 400,000 a year ago. Of the half million IDPs living in camps, an estimated 260,000 are in Baghdad.

"Many people (living in camps) have run out of resources and, if there is nothing left, they end up in these places," he said.

The UNHCR's figures for the numbers of IDPs living in camps are similar to those released by aid group Refugees International in a report in March.

In its report, Refugees International said the Iraqi government was doing little, if anything, to help the displaced.

It urged the United States to step in and take up the slack because it "bears special responsibility" for the looming humanitarian crisis.

Endres said that the Iraqi government has "given them (IDPs) occasionally, some stipends for six months."

"But in the last two years, IDP families have received one cycle of six-month stipends, if they were registered -- that's it."

Endres estimated that the stipends varied between 150,000 and 300,000 Iraqi dinars (130 and 260 dollars) per family per month, and noted that some stipend payments had been delayed by as much as a year.

"That's the harsh story right now," he said.

He added, however, that around half a million displaced Iraqis had returned to their homes in the past two years.

Around 80 percent of those who returned home were internally displaced, while the remainder returned to Iraq from overseas.

According to Endres, 60 percent of the 500,000 went to Baghdad, while a further 30 percent went to Diyala province, northeast of the capital.

"In Diyala, 400 villages were completely destroyed," he said. "People went back to their ravaged houses, but there was nothing to go back to. ... You just can't believe it."

UNHCR has so far built 3,000 two-room homes in 62 of the villages, Endres said, adding: "It goes in stages, because people come back, so we build a house for them, then more come back, so we have to do another round.

"But the first round we did, that encouraged others to return."





:: Article nr. 65884 sent on 12-may-2010 04:33 ECT

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