March 2nd, 2007

fashionable

Screw the children... save yourselves!

Save the Children announced the closure of their Iraq offices after over 15 years of helping the country's people, because it can no longer safely reach and serve the children it wants to help. 

Although their needs are desperate, Mr Roberts said the charity was unable to ensure help reached them or maintain organisational standards.

The charity repaired and re-equipped schools and hospitals in the aftermath of the war and successfully lobbied for children's rights to be included in the new Iraqi constitution. Mr Roberts said they were proud of that legacy and would continue to support work by local partners to form a national children's rights network.

"It was not an easy decision but it became more and more difficult for staff to get around all parts of the country," said Paul Roberts, the charity's Iraq programme director. "It's been hard to keep track of local partners' day to day work and their safety has been jeopardised. In practical terms it just became impossible." 

He said the security situation was getting worse, which made the decision to quit all the harder.

"The main focus in Iraq is around conflict and 'terrorism' but sadly that masks a huge humanitarian issue that's arising. Children can't go to school, there are problems accessing clean water."

Children in Iraq form nearly 50% of the population and around 8% are estimated to suffer from acute malnutrition. Although their needs are desperate, Mr Roberts said the charity was unable to ensure help reached them or maintain organisational standards.

Mr Roberts is based in Jordan along with the charity's other international staff but has made monthly trips to Save The Children's office in Iraq to try to monitor work with Save the Children's local partners Save the Children was originally based in Baghdad, but was forced to relocate their foriegn staff to Jordan and their Iraqi staff to Irbil in order to keep them safe.

Oxfam is gone. Care is gone. Save the Children has now gone. Will the Red Cross be next?

fashionable

In other news in Iraq...

The U.S. is about to launch the first door-to-door sweep of the entirety of Sadr City, and plans keeping a permanent presence there... at least until Maliki makes them stop when his government teeters on the brink of collapse. Iraqi civilians in the area are upset and offended by the increased U.S. presence, while U.S. soldiers are antsy, questioning the value of their missions, and unable to engage the enemy. Well, looks like they might get their chance... or at least get a better chance of being shot at.

Oh joy. Expect a firey couple of weeks.