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'Institute for the Study of War' Graph Compares Violence Levels Over Three Years
04/30/2009 11:27 AM ET

This new ISW graph by the Institute for the Study of War, submitted by ISW president Kimberly Kagen, compares violence levels in Iraq and Afghanistan over a three year period (measuring frequency of four different classifications of attacks) between December 2006 and February 2009.

Download hi-res version here.

The brief accompanying text is below.
ISW: Afghanistan Attacks in Iraq Perspective
April 24, 2009

Recently, news stories out of Afghanistan have focused heavily on the increase in violence there. As the U.S. sends more troops into the country to improve the security situation, the upward trend of violence is certainly concerning. However, it is helpful to put the violence into perspective. A new ISW Graph shows how violence levels in Afghanistan compare to violence levels in Iraq. The ISW Graph provides a startling sense of what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan.

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Advocacy Group Warns of Politicization of Refugee Returns in New Field Report
04/09/2009 6:40 PM ET

Here's the first paragraph of a newly released report by Washington-based refugee advocacy organization Refugees International, which sent a delegation to Iraq last month to assess the status of refugees at five sites in Iraq.

The number of displaced Iraqis remains high, both inside the country and in neighboring ones. They remain reluctant to go back due to lack of security, the creation of ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, and poor government services. However, since the only realistic solution for the majority of displaced Iraqis is to return, the Government of Iraq, the United States, and the United Nations need to work together to establish safe conditions. The government needs to increase the effectiveness of education, health care, and employment programs. The U.S. and the UN need to maintain funding for humanitarian programs, while the UN expands its presence in the country significantly.
The delegation included Refugees International President Ken Bacon, Senior Advocate Kristèle Younès and consultant Nir Rosen visited Baghdad, Iskanderia, Fallujah, Karbala and Hilla.

Download the four-page report, which includes policy recommendations for Iraq and the United States, here: Iraq___Preventing_the_Point_of_No_Return.pdf, or scroll through the document below.

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Think Tank Gathers Iraqi Academics, Questions "Surge" Success
03/04/2009 5:07 PM ET

Iraq is in need of a "post-sectarian strategy," according to a newly released report by the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs. The institute gathered a panel of Iraqi academics to put together the report, which criticizes the sectarian system put in place in Iraq after 2003 and advocates international -- and American -- engagement with Iraqi nationalism. Here's an excerpt from the executive summary:

The report sets out by questioning the success of the US “surge” in Iraq when it comes to providing long-term stability. It highlights the absence of real political reform as well as the persistence of Iranian influence over the new Iraqi political system as factors that may lead to major regional instability – either if US forces withdraw without facilitating a process of genuine national reconciliation, or if an attempt is made to overstay the withdrawal framework of the SOFA. Today, unless the international community alters its approach, a protracted conflict between an Iran-supported Iraqi government and various insurgency groups (including some with inspiration from al-Qaeda) seems like the most probable five-year scenario for Iraq. As a consequence, the geopolitical point of gravity in the region can be expected to shift towards Tehran, with an accompanying escalation of regional tensions as well as likely disruptions to world energy supply.

The report does two things to deal with this problem: It identifies ways in which the United States and the international community can regain leverage in the Iraq crisis, and it highlights reform measures that can help bring reconciliation in Iraq by focusing on the general population rather than on political opportunists – thereby also making the country more stable in the long term and less susceptible to Iranian influences. By aligning itself with the strong but often underestimated national aspirations of the Iraqi people (instead of the sectarian interests pursued by some Iraqi politicians), the United States would be able to responsibly withdraw its military forces within sixteen months while at the same time supporting a post-sectarian program of political reform.

The report was launched on Tuesday in Washington. Download the 32-page PDF here: NUPI_Iraq_030309.pdf, or scroll through the document below.

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Iraqi Women Recount Hardships After 2003 in New Oxfam Report
03/03/2009 4:17 PM ET

Iraqi women have borne special hardship over the last years of war and humanitarian crisis that have seized the country, the relief agency

writes in a new report that includes survey information gathered from 1,700 Iraqi women in five different provinces.

Oxfam and Iraqi partner al-Amal Group conducted the surveys with Iraqi women and have released the findings in the report entitled "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talk about their greatest challenges."

The introduction to the new report begins:

The plight of women in Iraq today has gone largely ignored, both within Iraqi society and by the international community. For more than five years, headlines have been dominated by political and social turmoil, the chaos of conflict and widespread violence. This has overshadowed the abysmal state of the civilian population’s day-to-day lives, a result of that very turmoil and violence.

Behind the headlines, essential services have collapsed, families have been torn apart and women in particular have fallen victim to the consequences of war. The specific hardships that some of Iraq’s most vulnerable individuals cope with on a daily basis, as told by them, have overwhelmingly gone unheard.

The report's introduction lists several features of the survey data:

  • Nearly 60% of women said that safety and security continued to be their number one concern despite improvements in overall security in Iraq
  • As compared with 2007 & 2006, more than 40% of respondents said their security situation worsened last year & slightly more than 22% said it had remained static compared to both years
  • 55% had been a victim of violence since 2003; 22% of women had been victims of domestic violence; More than 30% had family members who died violently.
  • Some 45% of women said their income was worse in 2008 compared with 2007 and 2006, while roughly 30% said it had not changed in that same time period
  • 33% had received no humanitarian assistance since 2003
  • 76% of widows said they did not receive a pension from the government
  • Nearly 25% of women had no daily access to drinking water & half of those who did have daily access to water said it was not potable; 69% said access to water was worse or the same as it was in 2006 & 2007
  • One-third of respondents had electricity 3 hours or less per day; two-thirds had 6 hours or less; 80% said access to electricity was more difficult or the same as in 2007, 82% said the same in comparison to 2006 and 84% compared to 2003
  • Nearly half of women said access to quality healthcare was more difficult in 2008 compared with 2006 and 2007
  • 40% of women with children reported that their sons and daughters were not attending school

Scroll through the report below, or download the 19-page PDF here:

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Latest Stats on Iraq's Displaced; Nearly 90% From Three Provinces
02/23/2009 7:09 PM ET

Marking three years since the infamous bombing attack in the shrine city of Samarra that many say accelerated the sectarian violence and forced displacement in Iraq, the International Organization for Migration has released a 15-page assessment of "the demographic composition and geographic journeys of the IDP (internally displaced people) populations remaining in displacement, as well as detail the overwhelming needs for basics such as adequate shelter, sufficient food, clean water, and access to employment."

Download the 15-page PDF file here: IOM_3_years.pdf.

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