'Liberated' Iraq — 2014 One of Bloodiest Years with More than 36,000 Victims

Human Wrongs Watch

Casualty figures for Iraq in 2014 were at their highest in over five years amid a spate of deadly violence which has been convulsing the country, the United Nations mission in the country reported on 2 January 2015.

© UNHCR D.Nahr Syria and Iraq continue to be rocked by major population displacements. This image shows Syrian Kurds from the town of Kobane seeking shelter in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

© UNHCR D.Nahr | Syria and Iraq continue to be rocked by major population displacements. This image shows Syrian Kurds from the town of Kobane seeking shelter in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

According to the latest figures issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), last year saw a total of 12,282 Iraqis killed and another 23,126 injured, registering as the worst outburst of violence experienced by the country since the 2006-2007 biennium.*

“Yet again, the Iraqi ordinary citizen continues to suffer from violence and terrorism,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNAMI, in a press release.

Since the beginning of 2014, Iraq has experienced a surge in violence as militants associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conduct an ongoing offensive against the Government, threatening the country’s overall stability as well as the lives of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

Peak of Devastation

In December alone, 1,101 Iraqis were killed and another 1,868 were wounded in what UNAMI defined as “acts of terrorism and violence,” The country experienced the peak of devastation in June with a total of 4,126 civilian casualties. UNAMI also noted that Baghdad was the worst-affected Governorate for the month of December with a total of 1,051 casualties reported.

Nonetheless, due to difficulties in conducting on-the-ground verifications of casualty figures, the UN Mission warned that the figures reported “have to be considered as the absolute minimum.”

In the press release, Mr. Mladenov condemned the “very sad state of affairs” afflicting Iraq and voiced hope that 2015 would usher in a glimmer of peace, as he urged political actors to unite in finding “peaceful solutions to the problems that face the country.”

“I do hope that 2015 will be a year in which this can be done,” he stated. (*Source: UN).

Violence in Iraq Kills at Least 1,232 People in November

Refugees in the Bahirka Camp near Erbil in Northern Iraq. Photo: UNAMI

On 1 December 2014, the top United Nations official there said that some 1,232 people – mostly civilians – were killed by violence in Iraq in November,  as he called on Iraq’s political, religious and social leaders to rise above their differences and work to consolidate the democratic process.**

“With nearly 12,000 people killed and nearly 22,000 injured since the beginning of 2014, Iraqis continue to be daily subjected to the unspeakable horrors of killing, maiming, reign of terror, displacement, extreme forms of intolerance and poverty”, said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov.

The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) reported that the number of civilians killed and wounded was around three times the size of the number of Iraqi Security Forces members, with civilians accounting for at least 936 of deaths and no fewer than 1,826 of those injured.

The figures for Iraqi Security Forces personnel killed amounted to 296, though the figures did not include casualties from operations in Anbar, with 608 injured.

The worst affected Governorate was Baghdad, which saw 1,253 civilian casualties, including 332 killed. Though the total casualty numbers recorded in Anbar were lower, more people – a total of 402 – were killed.

The Mission obtains its figures for casualties in Anbar Governorate from the Health Directorate there and in some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. The Mission also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties who died from secondary effects of violence after fleeing their homes.

UNAMI’s figures, which are conservative and which may under-report the actual numbers, should be considered the absolute minimum.

Month Civilian Casualties Injured
November 2014 936 1826
October 2014 856 1490
September 2014 854 1604
August 2014 1265 1198
July 2014 1186 1978
June 2014 1531 1763
May 2014 603 1108
April 2014 610 1311
March 2014 484 1104
February 2014 564 1179
January 2014 618 1052
December 2013 661 1201
November 2013 565 1186
October 2013 852 1793
September 2013 887 1957
August 2013 716 1936
July 2013 928 2109
June 2013 685 1610
May 2013 963 2191
April 2013 595 1481
March 2013 229 853
February 2013 418 704
January 2013 319 960
December 2012 230 655
November 2012 445 1306
Please note that all figures remain estimates until full investigation and analysis has been carried out.

(**Source: UN).

Displaced Iraqis Seek Safety and Aid in Camps as Winter Falls

© UNHCR/N.Colt | Mother-of-seven Laila opens a box containing insulation packaging that will keep her family warm this winter.

© UNHCR/N.Colt | Mother-of-seven Laila opens a box containing insulation packaging that will keep her family warm this winter.

Ned Colt reported from Arabat, Iraq, on 30 December 2014 reported on UNHCR that more than 3,000 internally displaced Iraqis are living in Arbat camp three months after it opened to shelter to some of the 2 million people uprooted by conflict in northern and central Iraq in 2014.***

They comprise some 660 families, including 40-year-old Laila, her husband Khalaf and their seven children. The family from Sinjar fled to the city of Suleymaniyah in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region in August to escape the deadly advance in other parts of the country of militant forces.

They stayed in a partly built building with no windows or doors, but when temperatures began to drop in early December, and the US$200 monthly rent became too much to pay, Laila and Khalaf opted to move to one of Iraq’s growing number of tented camps.

Thousands of other internally displaced people have been doing the same thing as temperatures continue to drop and the job market contracts. Running short of financial resources, they hope to receive winter assistance in the safety of camps from organizations like UNHCR.

A television, satellite dish, bags of clothing, a tricycle and a refrigerator are piled up outside the two UNHCR tents at Arbat camp that Laila and her family now call home. “Tent camps are for those without money and who have nowhere to go,” says 46-year-old Khalaf, a former construction worker in Sinjar. “Those who complain most about living in camps can usually afford to live elsewhere.”

Here in Arbat, there is water, latrines, electricity, children’s areas and a monthly ration of food. But it is far from ideal. Most such camps across Iraq lack hot water while schools are still in the planning stage. Mud is a near-constant companion.

Just One of 24 Camps for Displaced Iraqis

Arbat is just one of 24 camps for displaced Iraqis now open across the country. Another 17 are under construction, with almost all slated for completion by the end of January. There are more than 160,000 people living in these camps, but that number will likely more than double in the next few weeks.

While most of the displaced have now been moved out of schools, there are still tens of thousands living in unfinished buildings, with relatives, in rented apartments or in collective centres.

As of November, an estimated 40 per cent of the 2 million displaced were living in sub-standard shelter that’s the population that UNHCR and other aid agencies have prioritized to ensure that they will remain warm and dry through the winter.

“We are in a race against the clock here,” says UNHCR Representative in Iraq Neill Wright. “We are making substantial progress, but the sheer numbers of those in need, and the fact that they are spread out across some 2,000 sites across Iraq, makes it a daunting challenge.”

The weatherproofing of thousands of houses and collective centres is under way, and, since early November, UNHCR has been airlifting to Iraq 25,000 tent insulation kits from a factory in Pakistan. Thousands have been distributed, tent-by-tent, to camp populations. The priority is to help those living in high elevations where the winter snow is falling.

One of those camps is Arbat. Earlier this month, on their move-in day, the Laila and her family received their tent insulation kit. Within 30 minutes they had laid out the polystyrene flooring panels and hung fibre liners along the walls ¬- essentially creating a tent within a tent. Laila says camp life is far from ideal, but this winter, they can plan on being warm and dry. (***Source: UNHCR).

Read also:

Starting Over: A Nun, a Wedding Singer and a Pair of Self-described Nerds Seek Refuge in Northern Iraq

An “Immense” Humanitarian Emergency Unfolding in Iraq on the Eve of Harsh Winter

USA/UK Committed Genocide against Iraq People — By Mairead Corrigan Maguire*, Nobel Peace Laureate

‘Blair should be lecturing on Iraq from the dock at the International Criminal Court’

One Million People, in Particular Children, Displaced in “Liberated” Iraq

‘Haven’t we have already done enough damage?’ Ron Paul warns against Iraq invasion

‘Liberated’ Iraq – Convicted People Executed ‘Like Animals in a Slaughterhouse’

“Liberated” Iraq: UN Condemns ‘Atrocious Violence against Innocent Worshipers’

Horrors of War: ‘US, UK Munitions Cause Birth Defects in Iraq’

‘Iraqi Oil Poised to Become Game-changer for World Markets’ – IEA

The Untold Slaughter in Iraq

Karem, the Iraqi Refugee Who Teaches Art to Other Refugees

2015 Human Wrongs Watch

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