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Iraq: civilians without protection

13-08-2009 Field Newsletter

The ICRC delegation in Iraq seize the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions to stress that the basic rules of the law of armed conflict remain as important as ever and that Iraqi civilians must be spared the effects of hostilities. Through the testimonies presented in this newsletter Iraqi men and women explain how recent events have affected them and their families.

 

 
  Iraq: civilians without protection    
    Newsletter - civilians without protection    
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Kirkuk. An Iraqi woman flees the scene of a truck bomb    
     

There is a common perception that the armed conflict in Iraq is largely over. However, widespread violence and a lack of respect for human life continue to affect the Iraqi people. Despite the decrease in the number of deaths and injuries this year compared with 2006 and 2007, violence remains a feature of everyday life. Now the concern is that people in Iraq and elsewhere may come to accept this high level of insecurity as somehow " normal " and unavoidable.

Currently, about 500 people are killed on average every month and 2,000 wounded in mass explosions and indiscriminate attacks occurring mainly in Baghdad, Ninewa and Diyala governorates. Civilians are the primary victims of these incidents, which create a general sense of insecurity as anyone could be hit simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Women fear for themselves and their families every time they leave their homes to go to the

market or accompany their children to school. Businesses are regularly destroyed or severely damaged in indiscriminate attacks, often leaving many families without their only source of income.

International humanitarian law is designed to limit the effects of armed conflict and to protect those who are not or no longer participating in the fighting – an aim central to the four international treaties known as the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, which were adopted exactly 60 years ago today. This anniversary is an occasion to remember that a distinction must always be drawn between combatants and those taking no part in hostilities.

Through the testimonies presented here Iraqi men and women explain how recent events have affected them and their families. These harrowing stories show that the current security situation and the resulting humanitarian needs still leave many Iraqi men and women uncertain about their future.

We would like to seize the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions to stress that the basic rules of the law of armed conflict remain as important as ever and that Iraqi civilians must be spared the effects of hostilities. If that were to happen, there would be much less suffering.