Iraq — January 2006

Sociopolitical situation

The security situation in Iraq has shown no improvement, indeed has actually deteriorated. Thousands of Iraqis are looking for ways to escape the country to provide better lives for their families. While some have made a conscious decision to stay despite the everyday threats, fear of sudden kidnapping and random violence, others have little choice in the matter.

The escalating rebellion by Islamic insurgents has led the government to focus on security issues instead of other problems such as drug abuse that is rising among men and women of all ages in Iraq, especially in Baghdad and the south of the country. Youths who have become addicted are now working as drug dealers under pressure from the traffickers in order to keep themselves supplied.

Mental illness is on the rise, attributed to the increasing violence, chaos and deterioration in living conditions. The breakdown of families as a result of the years of war has also contributed to the increase, as has the political situation, that has made people pessimistic about their future.

Official records say that more than 450,000 families are homeless countrywide. Most are living in what can be described as very deteriorated or miserable conditions. The number could be much higher, since many homeless people have not been registered due to the prevailing insecurity in Iraq.

More than 240,000 (27% percent) of Iraqi children are chronically malnourished, despite receiving monthly food rations. These rations are under very grave threat and, if stopped, the health and psychological wellbeing of the children will be severely affected.

Religious situation

The new constitution declares that all ethnic groups in Iraq should have the right to study and teach their language and practice their beliefs in complete freedom. This encouraged the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha to ask the religious leaders of all three churches, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syrians, not to get involved in political matters and to leave it to capable secular people, while he asked the three churches to work hand-in-hand as Christians to lead their people to a harbor of safety.

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