Wednesday, April 25, 2007

UN Report - The Surge Isn't Working

By Cernig

The latest report from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq is not happy reading. For those who keep crying that "victory", variously defined, is just around the next Friedman-esque corner, it is a positive nightmare.

The Associated Press writes:
"While government officials claimed an initial drop in the number of killings in the latter half of February following the launch of the Baghdad security plan, the number of reported casualties rose again in March," the UNAMI study said.

Despite the government's announced decrease, the number of victims remained high, with up to 25 bodies still being found on some days during this period in Baghdad, the report said.

On March 1, it said, Iraq's Ministry of Interior announced that 1,646 civilians were killed in Iraq in February, most of them in Baghdad, but that "it is unclear on what basis these figures were compiled."

Despite the lack of government figures, UNAMI said the report still shows continued high levels of violence throughout the period, including large scale indiscriminate killings and assassinations by insurgents, militias and other armed groups.

"In February and March, sectarian violence claimed the lives of large numbers of civilians, including women and children, in both Shia and Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad," the report said.
The UNAMI report also notes that this is the first UN report to be released without Iraqi government statistics for deaths - because the Iraqi government has begun refusing to release the figures.
U.N. human rights officer Ivana Vuco said the government did not officially given a reason for refusing to release the numbers but it apparently "was becoming increasingly concerned about the figures being used to portray the situation as very grim."

"Inofficially, however, in a number of follow up meetings to their decision we were told that there were concerns that the people would construe the figures to portray the situation negatively and that would further undermine their efforts to establish some kind of security and stability in the country," she said at a news conference at the mission's heavily fortified compound in Baghdad.
The Iragi government called the new report "unbalanced" and said that it "puts the credibility of the U.N. office in Iraq on stake and it aggravates the humanitarian crisis in Iraq instead of solving it," yet the very reason for denying the official figures to the UN appears to be that previous reports were just as grim - and based upon the Iraqi government's own statistics.

The BBC adds some other statistics from the UNAMI report as well as providing a copy of the report itself:
3,000 people arrested since launch of Baghdad security plan in mid-February
37,000 people detained in Iraqi and US prisons, many without charge or trial

200 academics killed since 2003 and 12,000 doctors have fled the country

54% of Iraqi live on less than a US dollar a day

69% unemployment rate
And it adds that 4 million Iraqis are "at risk" from starvation. In addition, the report itself points to ongoing "collusion between armed militia and Iraqi Special Forces in raids and security operations, as well as reports of the failure of these forces to intervene to prevent kidnapping and murder and other crimes. In Kurdistan, violent supression of dissent against Kurdish rule, harrassment and intimidation of the press and violence against women are all on the rise. In Iraq as a whole, only 32% have access to clean drinking water and kangaroo courts are rife.

Not happy reading at all.

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