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Humanitarian Crisis in Fallujah

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Section: International News Geography: Middle East Iraq, Fallujah Topics: migration

November 13, 2004

Humanitarian Crisis in Fallujah

by Nathan Lepp

After a five-day offensive, the US and Iraqi interim government are claiming control over the former rebel stronghold of Fallujah. The operations in the city are viewed as an attempt to restore order among the Sunni minority - which represents approximately one fifth of the Iraqi population - prior to scheduled elections in January.

1,000 insurgents have been reported killed, and 200 have been taken prisoner. While the US has claimed that civilian casualties were relatively low, residents are describing incidents in which non-combatants were killed and injured. Aid agencies have warned of a possible humanitarian disaster with reports of piles of dead bodies, numerous injured civilians, and no medical help available to those remaining in the city. It is estimated that the 200,000 refugees who fled in the days leading up to the fighting currently have no access to food, water, or shelter.

In a letter to the US, British, and Iraqi government heads, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan argued that the current offensive may alienate the Sunni population and further entrench resistance.

Events on the ground suggest that the insurgency may be spreading, notably to Mosul. The city has reportedly been abandoned by police, some of whom are suspected of joining the insurgents, while several banks and government buildings have been occupied by rebels. Unrest has also been reported in Ramadi, Samarra, and Baquba.

» Sunday Herald (Scotland): 'Mission accomplished' in Fallujah

» The Economist: Winning in Fallujah, losing elsewhere?

» Reuters AlertNet: Fallujah a "big disaster", aid needed - Red Crescent

» Agence France Presse: US troops control most of Fallujah, rebels take fight to Mosul

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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