Refugees International is out with a new report about the 2.7 million Iraqi civilians made homeless by the U.S. invasion but still living in the country. The situation is desperate: children playing amid heaps of garbage, streets flooded with sewage and racked by crime, little access to water or electricity. No way to earn a living. No homes to return to. Nothing to lose.
Salvation comes from a dark source. The authors report:
Militias of all denominations are improving their local base of support by providing social services in the neighborhoods and towns they control. Through a ‘Hezbollah-like’ scheme, the Shi’ite Sadrist movement has established itself as the main service provider in the country.
Al Sadr has found a perfect way to swell his ranks. The Mahdi Army provides angry men with a sense of purpose and locks them in by, instead of paying salaries, promising relief for their children. Displaced families are “resettled” in neighborhoods administered by warlords, in homes that once belonged to Sunnis. Sunni militias are likewise appropriating Shi’ite properties, ensuring that grievances will long outlast armed hostilities.
International assistance isn’t forthcoming. The UN is allowed just 35 staff in country at any one time. And the U.S. is too overwhelmed with trying to keep a lid on escalating violence to attend to the human crisis. We speak of reconstruction and development since focusing on the more immediate need would be a tacit admission that things aren’t exactly improving.
Meanwhile, the radical factory keeps cranking out recruits, and a generation of hungry children learns to hate us.