published first on foreign policy in focus , by Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, 14 March, 2007 – (Homepage)
The Humanitarian Crisis – Every-day survival is a priority in a context where lack of security goes side by side with incredibly difficult living conditions. The Iraqi infrastructure which was already severely debilitated as a result of economic sanctions and a series of wars has deteriorated even further since 2003. Electricity shortages, lack of access to potable water, malfunctioning sanitation systems and a deteriorating health system are part of every-day lives in post-2003 Iraq. Intisar K., who works as a doctor in a teaching hospital in Baghdad, summed up what has also been documented in several UN-related documents: “We only have electricity for three to a maximum of five hours a day. There is not enough clean drinking water. Lack of sanitation is a big problem and continues to be one of the main causes of malnutrition, dysentery and death amongst young children.”
It is not only lack of electricity, clean water and petrol that affects the very-day lives of Iraqi civilians. According to recent reports published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the British-based charity organization Medact, the 2003 invasion and ongoing occupation has led to the deterioration of health conditions, including malnutrition, rise in vaccine-preventable diseases and mortality rates for children under five. Iraq’s mortality rate for children under five rose from 5 percent in 1990 to 12.5 percent in 2004.1 Similar to the humanitarian crisis during the sanctions period, women suffer particularly as they are often the last ones to eat after feeding their children and husbands. They often watch powerlessly as their often sick and malnourished children do not obtain adequate health care. (full text).