Monday, March 17, 2008

More On Iraq's DPs

The Journal again:
Five years ago, Enas Abood exulted over Saddam Hussein's overthrow from her comfortable three-story home. Her husband found a job with the U.S. military and started bringing home a handsome paycheck, along with American candy for their son.

"We started to see a light at the end of tunnel," says Ms. Abood. "But this light did not last for long."

As the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion approaches this Wednesday, she and her three children live in a shabby rental in a Baghdad slum. Ms. Abood often goes hungry to feed her kids and survives on handouts. Her husband, unhappy and unemployed, took off two months ago. She hasn't seen him since.

America's decision to topple Saddam Hussein has left Iraqis a people uprooted. Iraq's Ministry of Health estimates that 180,000 Iraqis have been killed; other estimates put the numbers much higher.

But far more common still is Ms. Abood's journey from middle-class prosperity to transient poverty, reflecting the life-shattering disappointment that many Iraqis now see as the legacy of the war. An estimated four million Iraqis -- over 14% of the country's population -- have been displaced inside Iraq or to neighboring countries, largely due to the chaotic aftermath of the American-led invasion that began on March 19, 2003.

Prior to the invasion, about one million Iraqis were internally displaced by conflicts and by policies of Saddam Hussein to move certain ethnic groups. But aid agencies say more than two million citizens are now displaced inside the country, largely because of sectarian violence -- infighting between the Sunni and Shia Muslim sects -- or fighting between insurgents and U.S. troops. About 60% of the displaced are children.

Others have fled the country altogether, with some two million refugees living in neighboring Jordan and Syria alone. As foreign governments face mounting social pressures from the influx, they are tightening visa rules and sending many back to Iraq, where many refugees no longer have homes.

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