Iraq's little-known humanitarian crisis

It is said that Iraq is the world's best-known conflict but the least well-known humanitarian crisis.

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, between 75,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed (depending on who's counting). This is in addition to the 1 million Iraqis, half of them children under 5, who died slow deaths during the 1991-2003 U.S.-led United Nations economic sanctions (a UNESCO estimate).

More than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced. Half have fled to Syria, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. This is the largest forced migration of people in the Middle East since 1948, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

Nearly 8 million Iraqis – one in three – are in need of humanitarian aid. Nearly half the internally displaced people do not have access to the Public Distribution System of ration cards and permits.

Only a third of Iraqis can access safe drinking water. The health system is collapsing. The drug distribution system has broken down. The sewage system has collapsed and only a fifth of Iraqis have access to a functional sanitary system.

UNICEF estimates that 4.5 million children are under-nourished. One child in 10 is under-weight. One in five is short for their age. In some areas, up to 90 per cent of children are not in school.

[Toronto Star]

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