Iraq’s internally displaced persons — why so many?

There’s been far less news about Iraqi refugees since President Obama took office, now that the media here and abroad find it less productive to beat on George W. Bush about the problem. But the problem persists. Ann has posted many times recently about Iraqi refugees in America and elsewhere, and on November 15 posted a good overview of the problem.  Before the Age of Obama we frequently posted on the problem within Iraq and the surrounding countries; see our Iraqi refugee category for 445 previous posts. 

The internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq are a different problem from the refugees who left Iraq during the fighting. The resettlement agencies don’t deal with them, and no one has suggested they be resettled anywhere else but their own country, so probably the reporting tends to be less politically freighted. In August we posted a report on a visit to the IDPs from the admirable Angelina Jolie, who said their numbers hadn’t been reduced by much. Reuters at that time reported:

An estimated 1.6 million Iraqis remain uprooted within the country, while another 300,000 have returned to their homes amid a general improvement in security in the past year, UNHCR said.

Today in a UN publication comes a report from Baghdad on the state of the IDPs and what the government is doing for them. The funding is insufficient and some members of Parliament are trying to increase the amount.

Abdul-Khaliq Zankana, head of parliament’s committee on displacement and migration, said 200 billion Iraqi dinars (US$169.5 million) is to be allocated in the currently proposed 2010 budget for the Displacement and Migration Ministry.

“Although it is more than what was allocated in 2009, it still won’t alleviate all the suffering of IDPs and returnees and [significantly] improve their living conditions,” Zankana told IRIN.

“We consider the displacement crisis a long-term one – its file can’t be closed in one or two years, as some say. And we believe that increasing the amount [of money for them] will help alleviate a big portion of this segment’s suffering.”

The Iraqi government cut the funding in 2009, apparently because oil prices were down and it relies on oil revenues for much of its income.  Here’s something to note:

His [Zankana’s] calls are supported by prominent Iraqi activist Basil Abdul-Wahab al-Azawi, head of the Baghdad-based Commission of Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of more than 1,000 NGOs inside and outside Iraq. Al-Azawi has suggested that a joint committee with representatives from the Displacement Ministry and local and international NGOs should be set up to evaluate the needs of IDPs.

He also called on the government to shoulder all the costs relating to IDPs and returnees (without reliance on outside agencies), and have international NGOs focus on assisting refugees in neighbouring countries.

A thousand NGOs! Probably most are small. It seems to be a suggestion that bespeaks some pride and a wish to become less dependent on outside forces, a good sign. Zankana said that much of the money supposed to be paid to the IDPs, and money due to those who returned to their areas of origin, was not paid.

The numbers are very shaky. The UN said in August that there were 1.6 million IDPs. This article says:

According to recent government figures, there are nearly 2.6 million IDPs in Iraq and about two million Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan.

That’s a pretty big difference. Whatever the correct figure, only 45,000 families were reported to have returned to their own areas. That’s hard to believe. Surely some of these families have relatives remaining in their home areas, and other incentives to find a way to return. Iraq has a functioning economy. Wikipedia reports GDP growth of 6.6 percent in 2008, and per capita income of $4,000 in that year, which is not bad when you consider most people live in families with several people. Why is the IDP problem persisting so? Is there perhaps a lot of fraud, as there tends to be when money is being given out? Or maybe there’s some reason I don’t understand.

Al-Amriki, American Al-Shabaab, says they have big plans for the world

Update January 30th, 2010:  The NYT has a lengthy story on Al-Amriki reported here at Jihad Watch

The Toronto Star has a lengthy detailed article yesterday about Omar Hammami – known to followers as Abu Mansour “Al-Amriki” (the American) — whose fluent English and flamboyant style may be responsible for some recruitment of Somali refugees living in the West to join the Jihadists in Somalia.

Born and raised in Alabama he spent a year in Canada learning Somali ways and marrying a Somali girl before joining Al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa.  We have reported on him previously when he mocked Obama’s Cairo speech on Islam, here.*

Read the whole article, it is very interesting.  The one part I wanted to point out today is this section of the news feature—for those of you thinking this is just an issue for far away Africa, Al-Amriki makes it clear that their Jihad is about creating a worldwide caliphate!

Al-Shabab’s stated goals are to take power from the fragile government backed by African Union troops and turn Somalia into an Islamic state friendly to Al Qaeda. Ultimately, its leaders say, the aim is to establish a global Islamic state.

“We are striving to establish the Islaamic Khilaafah from East to West,” Hammami writes in an Internet posting of Jan. 8, 2008, “after removing the occupier and killing the apostates.”

That last part means you—unless you are a devout Muslim, you are the occupiers and the apostates.  And, by the way, the stealth Jihad can be accomplished through the political process more easily than with guns.  In Africa it might be guns, in America and Canada it is the political process (while you sleep!).

* For more information use our search function for ‘Al-Amriki.’

Australia update: Diversity in Victoria fueling violent crime?

Maybe some of our Australian readers can enlighten us further about why the crime in the Victoria region of Australia involves crimes with racial motivations.   Here is a story from the Sydney Morning Herald that tells of the murder of an Indian immigrant, but completely dances around the subject of who is committing the crimes against Indians who, according to this report, are just working hard and going to school.

Apparently the targeting of Indian immigrants has further strained relations between Australia and India.

The brutal killing in Melbourne of Nitin Garg, a young Indian man with permanent residence in Australia, has put added stress on what is a difficult relationship between political leaders in New Delhi and Canberra.

Who are the vocal minorities?  What other ethnic groups?  That is what I want to know!

Obviously, the Federal Government is not responsible for street crime in Victoria. But the state’s premier, John Brumby, heads a Labor Government that gives the impression of being unduly sensitive to upsetting some vocal minorities.

The NSW police force has an organised crime directorate that includes both an Asian Crime Squad and a Middle East Organised Crime Squad. The NSW Government makes no apologies for targeting suspected criminals in response to perceived need. Victoria Police has no equivalent units. There have been suggestions that young Indians in Melbourne are being targeted by other ethnic groups. The Victorian Government has been silent on this matter.

The immediate response of Victoria Police to any suggestion that attacks on Indians are racially motivated is to throw the switch to denial, or at least to avoidance.