Caravan camp for displaced widows’ families

A camp consisting of 150 caravans has been set up by the Baghdad local authorities to accommodate a specific group of internally displaced persons (IDPs), a local official said on 29 March.

“The camp will house only displaced families headed by widows in order to ensure that they get appropriate care,” Mazin al-Shihan, head of Baghdad council’s displacement committee, said.

“Each family will have a caravan. We’ve already housed about 70 families and by the end of next week we hope to have accommodated 150,” he said.

The camp in eastern Baghdad has a 500-KVA generator, washing facilities and a sewage system. A similar camp was built in western Baghdad in 2008.

Each 40-square-metre caravan contains two bedrooms, a living room, a toilet and kitchen, and is valued at 21 million Iraqi dinars (about US$18,800), he said.

“Such camps will ensure respect and protection for families in dire need of government care.”

There are no accurate official statistics on the number of widows in Iraq but government bodies, and international and local NGOs agree that their number has risen since the US-led invasion in 2003.

On 25 March the Iraqi Planning Ministry put their number at about 900,000. Iraq’s population is about 30 million.

The report showed that over 62 percent of widows are over 65 years old; 5-6 percent are aged 35-44; 1.5-2 percent are 25-34; 1 percent are 15-24. This would leave about 29 percent in the 45-64 age bracket.

The report did not give a breakdown of how many widows had lost their husbands due to violence or war.

Other estimates put the number of Iraqi widows at more than one million nationwide.