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IRIN - Iraq





 



Iran-Iraq earthquake live blog

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:43:02 +0000

A massive 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck at 1818 GMT on Sunday some 30 kilometres south of the Iraqi city of Halabja. The epicentre was in a mountainous region on the Iranian side of the border where hundreds of fatalities were reported. The toll is expected to rise further as relief efforts reach the remote area. November 15 (This live blog was closed at 1730 GMT on Wednesday 15th November) Advice for US Iranians keen to help Days after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit near the Iran-Iraq border, survivors are still struggling to cope with the aftermath, attending funerals for the dead and sleeping in tents or cars. Reporting from the worst-affected city of Sarpol-e Zahab and the surrounding villages, the New York Times painted a picture of destruction and shock, even in a region accustomed to earthquakes and war. In Tehran, volunteers were collecting food and blankets for the victims. In the United States, where there are around one million Iranian Americans, the National Iranian American Council advised how residents of a country with a comprehensive trade embargo with Iran could help without running afoul of sanctions laws. November 14 Unauthorised burials push toll higher The death toll in Iran following Sunday’s earthquake is now believed to be higher than previously thought because many of the victims were buried by their families before the authorities were notified. “Up to now, we have issued 430 death certificates… but an estimated number of 100 to 150 more people have been buried in quake-stricken villages and towns without permission… which raises the overall death toll to between 530 to 580 in Kermanshah,” Mohammad-Ali Monshizadeh, an official from Kermanshah province, told the state news agency IRNA. Powerful earthquake strikes Iran-Iraq border width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VcvyF6sez9g?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allowfullscreen=""> President Rouhani visits disaster zone Iranian President Hassan Rouhani toured the worst-hit town of Sarpol-e Zahab on Tuesday, offering his condolence to the families of the victims and pledging to personally oversee the reconstruction effort. "I call on all governmental and military officials and all NGOs to help the Housing Foundation and do not do separate work," Rouhani said in a statement, according to the president's official website. "This was painful for all Iranians," Rouhani said, urging people to rebuild their own homes but offering loans to help them. "The government will accelerate this process so that it can be done in the shortest time possible," he added. Iranian president visiting quake-hit areas in Kermanshah, vowing to accelerate relief efforts https://t.co/4TtbaJ4fr5 — Press TV (@PressTV) November 14, 2017 Dominica 3.jpg News Aid and Policy Conflict Evicting Kabila, rebuilding Dominica, and liberating Hawija: The Cheat Sheet IRIN Our weekly round-up of hot humanitarian topics DRC Afghanistan Iraq [...]



The uncertain future of the Kurdish people

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:15:51 +0000

As Iraq’s Kurds gear up to vote in a pivotal independence referendum, this IRIN in-depth series explores the Kurdish people - past, present, and future: What binds them together? What still separates them? What does the prospect of a nation state mean for ordinary people and what risks does this bubbling undercurrent of nationalism pose for the powder keg region?  Click on the title boxes below to read each story. Your browser does not support the video tag. A country called Kurdistan? Is independence around the corner for Iraq's Kurds? Martyn Aim/IRIN The Kurdish struggle in northern Syria As Iraqi Kurds prepare for a historic independence referendum, whither their Syrian brethren? Andrea DiCenzo/IRIN What do Yazidis make of Kurdish independence? Next week's independence referendum has divided one of Iraqi Kurdistan's most persecuted groups Martyn Aim/IRIN Vote violence in flashpoint city signals long road for Iraqi Kurdistan Much of Iraqi Kurdistan may be rejoicing, but the divided city of Tuz Khurmatu still worries for its future Tom Westcott/IRIN   Iraqi Kurdistan has voted for independence. What now? The Iraqi Kurdish referendum won’t be ushering in independence just yet, but it has brought plenty of political upheaval Martyn Aim/IRIN   Kirkuk loss fractures fragile Kurdish unity The battle (that wasn’t) for Kirkuk exposed the unpopularity of independence for non-Kurdish minority groups in the region Tom Westcott/IRIN           The uncertain future of the Kurdish people Kurdistan shop cropped Special Report Migration Conflict Politics and Economics IRIN Iran Middle East and North Africa Iraq Syria Turkey [...]



What do Yazidis make of Kurdish independence?

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 07:41:51 +0000

Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum hangs on tenterhooks, with Iraq’s prime minister promising military intervention should Monday’s vote lead to violence, the US, UK, and UN urging Kurdish leaders not to move forward, and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s parliament voting to do just that. With much of society apparently in two minds about the referendum, especially its timing, one group the authorities long believed they could count on for a “yes” vote was the Yazidis, a Kurdish minority singled out by so-called Islamic State for especially cruel treatment in a campaign the UN has deemed genocide. But Yazidis – displaced in different camps and mostly hailing from Sinjar, a contested area that could become a flashpoint for further conflict if the vote goes forward – are themselves divided on the independence question. D Nahr/UNHCR Many internally displaced Yazidis have taken shelter in camps or housing near Dohuk “It’s the same for us if we vote or if we don’t vote,” Hassan, a Yazidi father of four living in a sprawling camp near the city of Dohuk, told IRIN. “Everyone treats us badly. Both the Arabs and the Kurds have treated us very badly. Both sides look out for their own interests and, meanwhile, nobody helps us.”   He gestured around the small tent he and his family have called home for two years: “There are 6,000 Yazidis living like this here, in just this one camp, but no one is interested in helping us to rebuild our homes and return home.” Backing for Iraq’s other armed force   Hassan said many Yazidis have thrown their support behind the predominantly Shia Hashd al-Shaabi forces, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Units, or PMU. Formed in 2014 of pre-existing militias and new volunteers with the express purpose of fighting IS and now officially under the authority of the Iraqi government, the PMU played a major role in liberating parts of Sinjar from IS, arming Yazidis who were willing to join. According to PMU spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi, 2,000 Yazidis have joined the force and are stationed in positions around Sinjar, mostly in areas still classed as military zones. “It’s good that [Yazidi] people are joining the Hashd,” Hassan said, while older family members nodded sagely in agreement. “They are [a] good option and a better one for us than the Kurds.” A key PMU leader has recently come out against the referendum. Iran, which supports the PMU with weapons, ammunition, and training, is also opposed to the vote.  But a few kilometres down the road from Hassan and his scepticism, at a makeshift garage and petrol station, Yazidi mechanic Yusef, selling fuel from barrels, was brimming with enthusiasm. “This referendum is good for the Kurdish people and good for the Yazidis,” he said, beaming. “The Kurds are supported by the US and together they support us. I’ll absolutely be voting yes.” History of persecution Most of Iraq’s Yazidis hail from Sinjar, in Nineveh province. More than 275,000 people – including tens of thousands of Yazidis – were driven from their homes there in August 2014 as IS swept through, terrorising the Yazidi population, who they characterise as pagans.  Innocent civilians were killed, abducted, and forced to convert under torture. Women were taken into sexual slavery, and many are believed to be still captive. Many fled IS slaughter to the top of Mount Sinjar, where some were dramatically rescued. Yazidis who remained on the mountain split. Some joined forces with a militia that has ties to Turkish- and Syrian-based Kurdish groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while others are loyal to KRG President Masoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Tom Robinson/IRIN In March this year, fierce fighting broke out between the groups, sending yet more civilians into flight. The split in the fighters – man[...]



Six major humanitarian challenges confronting the UN General Assembly

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:15:00 +0000

Hype over what President Donald Trump may or may not say dominated the media build-up to this week’s UN General Assembly. However, US funding cuts and the apparent absence of American authority on key global issues weigh more heavily over world leaders beset by a host of daunting humanitarian challenges.   It’s the first UNGA since Trump was elected president. He’ll make his debut on Monday in hosting a meeting on UN reform, ahead of his maiden speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday. It’s also the first year at the helm for UN Secretary-General António Guterres. His speech opening high-level week on Tuesday will be closely watched, as will his handling of Trump’s US administration.   The US decision on the eve of the General Assembly to halve its diplomatic presence in New York doesn’t augur well for those concerned that US cuts and retreats from international agreements are creating a dangerous vacuum at a time when the General Assembly has so many global crises to address.   Here’s our guide to the major humanitarian issues:   Climate Change   The UNGA is always a vital forum for the world’s developing countries, particularly those facing down climate change. The new General Assembly president, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovenia, identified grappling with it a priority for the UN’s 72nd session. Catastrophic flooding in South Asia and two record-setting hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean and the southern United States will lend added gravity to sessions this week.   A high-level meeting convened by Lajcak and Guterres on Monday will focus on Hurricane Irma, which ploughed through the Caribbean and into Florida earlier this month. The UN’s regional response plan for the Caribbean calls for $27 million to help up to 265,000 people affected. For the first time in 300 years, no one is left living on Barbuda, according to Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US.   Notably absent from the expected speakers list are any Americans. Trump this year announced he would pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, angering world leaders and giving an opening to countries like China to take more of a lead on the issue. After word leaked that the US might be changing its position once more, the White House confirmed on the eve of the UNGA that it still plans to renege unless drastic changes are made. On Tuesday, heads of state will meet for a roundtable on climate change. By then, a new hurricane, Maria, will be running over some of the same Caribbean islands hit by Irma, possibly reaching Hispaniola by the end of the week. NGOs hope that attention will rub off on the sustainable development goals more broadly, with warnings that countries are falling behind.   Famine   More than 20 million people in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan, and northeastern Nigeria are still at risk of famine, and their lot will be the focus of aid agencies and diplomats. The UN’s just-released State of Food Security report warns that “the long-term declining trend in undernourishment seems to have come to a halt and may have reversed.”   Shortfalls in funding persist across the board, and the aid community will be applying further pressure on donors to follow through on their promises. The week’s main event on famine response and prevention is on Thursday. It will provide an opportunity for some new faces – recently appointed World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley and Mark Lowcock, the new top UN relief official – to set out their stall.   Yemen’s long humanitarian crisis, deepened by years of war, is now considered the world’s most dire: more than 20 million people are in need of assistance; seven million are severely food insecure; two million children are acutely malnourished; the worst cholera outbreak in memory has infected more than 660,000 people and claimed 2,100 lives. There’s no sign the warring parties are any closer to ending the civil war. On Monday, UN, EU and Gulf Cooperation Council r[...]