For Iraqi refugees, 2007 was a year marked by new levels of misery. According to a survey of 1.5 million refugees in Syria, 78 percent had been forced to flee Baghdad during the “surge”.
One in five said they had been tortured. Over half had lost a relative or knew someone who had been killed. The majority had suffered from air raids, shelling and rocket attacks.
Britain and the US have turned Iraq into a failed state, creating the biggest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the fall of Palestine in 1948.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) it is the occupation that has created a huge refugee crisis.
The IOM found that “between 2003 and the end of 2005, 400,000 persons were displaced; since February 2006, almost one million additional persons have been displaced. An average of 60,000 people have been displaced per month in 2007.”
Over 1.9 million people are internally displaced and a further two million are living close to destitution in neighbouring Jordan and Syria.
There are an estimated 22,000 Iraqi refugees adrift in Europe. The Swedish town of Sodertalje is giving shelter to 1,400 Iraqi refugees – double the entire number allowed into Britain.
In a country that once boasted some of the best education and health systems in the region, there is now poverty, hunger and mass migration.
Only one in ten Iraqi children in Jordan attend school, while over two thirds of children that remain in Iraq have no school place.
Baghdad has been divided between Shia and Sunni areas with US-sponsored death squads unleashing terror on the population.
The capital has been ripped apart by sectarian cleansing and is criss-crossed by “security walls” guarded by watchtowers. Occupation troops sweep through neighbourhoods disarming its inhabitants and rounding up the men, they are followed by gangs of sectarian killers.
Amnesty International reports that tens of thousands of internees are being held in “arbitrary and extra-judicial detention”. The US holds over 26,000, and a further 24,000 are being held in Iraqi-run camps. Around 8,000 of these have been held for longer than a year, while 1,300 have been detained for more than two years.
In April 2007, 827 prisoners were found jammed into a facility built for 300, and in one air base 272 had been put into a jail intended for 75.
Many US-sponsored rebuilding projects have ground to halt. The failure to rebuild the infrastructure, revive the economy or provide any semblance of a economic future is one of the most visible signs of the failure of the occupation.
Unemployment remains at 40 percent – unchanged since 2003, while inflation is over 50 percent per year.
Half of Iraqis live on less than 50 pence a day and 15 percent live in “extreme poverty”.
An estimated 30,000 people have become seriously ill with cholera.
Last summer one hospital in Baghdad was treating up to 70 new cases a month, while the United Nations reports that there has been a 30 percent increase in waterborne diseases.
Meanwhile over 12,000 of Iraq’s 34,000 doctors have fled into exile.
Iraq needs control of its own economy, society and future.
Every indicator points to one simple truth – that the occupation is making life in Iraq worse.