Thousands Flee Diyala Violence : Plus, “Hometown Baghdad” Videos

May 20th, 2007 - by admin

IRIN Report / United Nations – 2007-05-20 22:43:20

Thousands Flee Upsurge in Violence in Diyala Province
Report / IRIN

DIYALA (May 15, 2007) — Thousands of Iraqis have been fleeing their homes in Diyala province over the past week after an increase in attacks by armed groups and a major offensive by US and Iraqi troops.

Diyala province is a volatile but religiously mixed governorate to the northeast of Baghdad.

“In the past six days more than 900 families, about 5,000 individuals, have fled Diyala governorate. Some of them were forced out by militants and others were scared of the clashes,” said Faris Abdallah, media officer for Diyala governorate office.

The villages of Khalis and Ambugiya have seen considerable sectarian violence and the number of internally displaced people is greatest there, Abdallah said, adding that most are Shi’a. Most of the families which have fled Diyala have headed for the southern provinces of Najaf, Kerbala or Basra. Some have moved to the outskirts of Baghdad where camps for the Diyala displaced have been set up. A few families have also been internally displaced within the province.

According to the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS), local people are facing an imminent humanitarian tragedy. Most fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing. The IRCS said it was trying to help the newly displaced but volunteers were having access problems owing to the continued violence.

Religious Extremists
According to Abdallah, Sunni insurgents have been establishing a Taliban-style rule over the local population in Diyala province and this has caused the death of dozens of residents, including women and children.

“They banned smoking and the consumption of any kind of product that might have been imported. Also, in some areas girls are prohibited from going to school as it is considered unnecessary; men cannot wear Western clothes and the Internet has been banned,” Abdallah noted.

Other humanitarian workers say the situation in Diyala is desperate.

“In some districts, people have been without food and water for more than five days as clashes continue and militants have forbidden them from leaving their homes. We have spoken by phone to some locals and they are desperate since they are looking after sick children and a heavily pregnant woman,” said Fatah Ahmed, a spokesperson for the Iraq Aid Association (IAA).

“We cannot get close to the area for security reasons and are being forced to witness the start of a new catastrophe for hundreds of families who were already living in poverty and who have nothing to eat or drink. If they don’t find a solution soon, we will start finding the bodies of people who have starved to death in their homes,” Ahmed added.

This item comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Reposting or reproduction, with attribution, for non-commercial purposes is permitted. . Terms and conditions

Video Diary: The Palace Maid

Adel, Hometown Baghdad

(15 May 2007) — Recently a series of short documentaries made by Iraqis and filmed in Iraq began appearing on a website called Hometown Baghdad. When the web documentary project is completed, there will be 45 ‘webisodes’, each one presenting something rarely captured in the blur of daily headlines about Iraq: humanity. Electronic Iraq will be posting Hometown Baghdad episodes daily with our other Iraq Diaries. If you want to learn more about this invaluable project, visit the Hometown Baghdad website.

Video Diary: Troops
Adel, Ausama, Saif, Hometown Baghdad

(14 May 2007) — In this episode of Hometown Baghdad, all three Iraqi contributors reflect on the presence of US troops in Iraq. Saif and Ausama reflect the fears Iraqis have of the troops, while Adel explains why he would like to see more of them. Hometown Baghdad was shot by an all-Iraqi crew and tells the stories of three young people trying to survive in Baghdad.

Video Diary: Sick of This
Adel, Ausama, Saif, Hometown Baghdad

(10 May 2007) — Robbers, Terrorists, insurgents, militiamen…’call them what you want,’ says Adel in this episode of Hometown Baghdad. ‘It’s like a standard job now, to kill people.’ Talking about people you saw or heard were killed today, he adds, is ‘something really ordinary.’ Iraqis will suffer civil war, says another Hometown Baghdad contributor, Saif, ‘Until each side will lose. In civil war, nobody wins.’

Video Diary: My Best Friend Zaid
Saif, Hometown Baghdad

(9 May 2007) — ‘I’d like to talk about my best friend Zaid…’ begins this episode of Hometown Baghdad, a web-documentary project produced by Iraqis in Iraq. Ziad is the best friend of Hometown Baghdad contributor Saif, and this brief portrait frames friendships in Iraq as a critical respite from the chaos.

Video Diary: Liberated?
Adel, Ausama, Saif, Hometown Baghdad

(8 May 2007) — Four years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Hometown Baghdad’s Adel, Ausama and Saif consider claims of liberation. ‘Some people ask, do you feel liberated?’ Ausama asks. ‘How can you even ask me this?’