Parliament finds spare cash for IDPs

The Iraqi parliament decided on 6 December to allocate 500 million Iraqi dinars (about US$410,000) to help displaced families nationwide.

The money is unused attendance allowances for members of parliament (MPs), explained Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani.

“This is a preliminary payment and will be followed by more. The money has already been sent to parliament’s displacement committee to distribute,” al-Mashhadani said.

In a bid to curb frequent absences of its members, Iraq’s 275 MPs decided to recycle unused attendance allowances in this way.

The displacement committee said it would use the money to buy food, blankets, hygiene kits and clothes, especially for children, and other essentials which will be distributed to internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“It has become very hard for the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to meet the increasing needs of these [displaced] families and especially those who are living in camps and abandoned government buildings,” said MP Abdul-Hadi Mohammed.

“Most of these families are living in harsh conditions and need every penny, especially those who have children or chronic diseases,” Mohammed said.

He said it had become hard to determine how much money these families needed each month as their numbers were increasing.

Displacement in Iraq is presenting an enormous humanitarian challenge and extreme hardship, say aid agencies.

Displacement figures

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says there are some 2.2 million IDPs in Iraq, while more than 2.2 million others have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria (about 1.2 million) and Jordan (up to 750,000). Around one million of the estimated 4.4 million Iraqis that have been forced to flee their homes did so before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Early in November the UNHCR said continuing violence had forced an average of 60,000 Iraqis from their homes in the preceding few months.

According to a report released on 4 November by the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of IDPs in Iraq is now greater than the number of Iraqis who have fled the country. “Nearly 2.3 million people have been driven from their neighbourhoods [internally displaced] as Iraq is increasingly carved up along sectarian lines,” the report said.

sm/ar/cb