Takeaways for September 19-25, 2015
- In the provinces of Ninewa, Anbar and Kirkuk, a series of advances were reported by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), and Peshmerga forces in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
- Dozens of civilians were killed, and many others were injured, in an unknown airstrike in Salah ad-Din, while a series of bombings took place south and east of Baghdad.
- Iraq is facing a renewed cholera epidemic with hundreds of cases recorded in Baghdad and Anbar province, with the highest concentration of reported cases in western Baghdad and Abu Ghraib. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it was ready to take all necessary actions to support Iraq’s Health Ministry, including intensified public education of local communities in affected areas and assistance in determining what populations are in the greatest danger. At both the Federal and provincial level, health officials announced plans to prevent the further spread of the disease. Particular concern has been expressed about the risk to displaced families and schools in affected areas.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) opened two new camps in Baghdad province. Located near Bzeibiz bridge and in Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, together the camps are designed to shelter up to 3,500 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fleeing violence in Anbar. Also this week, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration allocated billions of Iraqi dinars to help IDPs and joined the UNHCR in a comprehensive study of IDP camps as a first step towards improving living conditions for camp residents.
- Students returned to classes, as education officials promise to invest in building new schools as well as enhancing the education curriculum around the country.
Clashes with ISIS Continue throughout Iraq
On September 18, Peshmerga forces in conjunction with the International Coalition killed and wounded more than 57 members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) during an aerial bombardment in the villages of Tal Afar, Bahzany, and Sultan Abdullah near Mosul. The operation also led to the destruction of ISIS headquarters in the village Sultan Abdullah.
On September 19, the commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Anbar Ziad al-Dulaimi announced the beginnings of a large-scale military operation to clear the Thar Thar area (70 km north east of Ramadi, Anbar) of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
On September 20, the Iraqi air forces killed roughly 20 ISIS members and caused the terrorist group significant material damage when it bombed a meeting that took place in the Bawabli area, located in norther al-Khalidiya, Ramadi. The meeting was alleged to have been focused on plotting terrorist attacks during the upcoming Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
On September 20, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) arrested Hussein Abdul Rahman Mohammed, a key ISIS leader, south of Baghdad. Hussein was recently placed in charge of preventing coups and eliminating internal dissidents in the southern branches of ISIS, according to official sources.
On September 22, Peshmerga forces seized control of the village of Krkran, south of the city of Kirkuk, as part of their ongoing efforts to secure the southern areas of the province. The offensive, which was thought to have ended, is one of the first significant offensives by the Peshmerga forces in several months.
On September 24, the Iraqi air force bombed several targets of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) throughout Anbar province, resulting in the death of at least 40 ISIS fighters, as well as eleven vehicles. Several weaponry, as well as an armored excavator and a fuel truck, were destroyed outside of Fallujah in support of the ongoing offensive aimed at reclaiming the city.
On September 24, the International Coalition and Iraqi air forces destroyed a major Improvised Explosive Device (IED) manufacturing facility near Mosul. The bombing reportedly resulted in dozens of ISIS casualties, as Iraqi government officials warned residents to avoid buildings that were being used by ISIS.
Cholera Epidemic Returns
On September 20, Mayor of Abu Ghraib, Othman Adil, shared, “the incidence of cholera in the district of Abu Ghraib reached 164, including 58 state cases.” The mayor confirmed the death of four people in Baghdad due to the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it will take the necessary action to support the Ministry of Health and the fight against the cholera epidemic in Iraq. WHO representative, Altaf Musani, stated that “the need is growing to intensify health education activities” within local communities and improve the water and sanitation conditions in settlements with vulnerable populations such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), “who now number 3.2 million.”
On September 23, the head of Anbar Provincial Council, Sabah Karhoot, called for heightened coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) to contain the cholera epidemic in the region and “rescue the displaced people of the province,” noting that the “shortages of drinking water and the deterioration of the humanitarian and health situation of the displaced families in the governorate are major elements that can cause fast disease-proliferation.”
On September 23, the Karkh Health Department recorded 84 cases of cholera. The department called on clerics and civil society organizations to aid in the dissemination of health messages and information to civilians in order to contain the spread of the disease, noting that all cases were in areas that did not have suitable drinking water. The measures taken by the Karkh Health Department to improve the safety of the water supply include chlorination, periodic monitoring of the quality of water, and hygiene promotion.
On September 23, al-Muthanna Health Department closed a number of drinking water purification plants as part of a recent inspection campaign “for fear of the spread of cholera.” The first recorded case of cholera in al-Muthanna province came on Tuesday.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to Receive Major Assistance
On September 20, the Minister of Displacement and Migration, Jassim Mohammed, announced that 380 billion dinars will be distributed to displaced families via smart cards. Minister Mohammed stated that 541,000 smart cards have been sent out to 90% of the displaced families registered in the ministry’s database. The ministry is “determined to grant the distribution of cards to 90,000 families after the end of Eid al-Adha holiday.” Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Bruno Guido, and Minister Mohammed discussed a joint comprehensive study on the living conditions of displaced people in IDP camps. The ministry announced that its priority is to work on “improving the education for displaced students and help them continue their studies” calling on the UNHCR to support the Ministry of Higher Education in providing opportunities at the University of Tikrit to ensure the return of students to their studies and encourage displaced families to return to their areas.
On September 22, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that they will distribute 1500 winter tents to displaced people in IDP camps.
This assistance comes on top of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) opening two new camps for IDPs in Baghdad. Scout Camp, which opened on September 16, is located in the Ghzaliya neighborhood and will host up to 1,500 Iraqi IDPs. Sadr Al Yusufiya camp, which opened on September 22 and can hold up 2,000 Iraqis, is located six kilometers from the Beizbiz bridge, the main thoroughfare from Baghdad to Anbar. Both camps were constructed to help meet the need of housing IDPs from Anbar following the latest round of fighting.
Students Start Schools as Officials Invest in Improving the Country’s Education
On September 19, the Salah ad-Din province administration announced the allocation of 95 million dinars for the reconstruction of government institutions and schools in Amirli.
On September 22, the general director of Babil’s Department of Education, Hussein Salem, shared that more than 570,000 students in various stages of education attended school today.
On September 23, the Ministry of Education announced that it will incorporate several changes to schools’ curriculum, including adding social sciences classes in high schools and social studies courses in primary schools. This comes as an effort in cooperation with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to modernize Iraq’s educational system in order to keep up with the world development.
On September 23, Communication Director of Maysan’s Department of Education, Mohammed Hamza al-Kaabi, stated that the province added 50 new schools and more than 300,000 students started school.
Unknown Airstrike Kill Dozens of Civilians and Baghdad Witnesses a Series of Bombing
On September 19, 43 people were killed, and 70 others wounded, by an unknown airstrike that targeted ammunition sites that belonged to the former Iraqi army in al-Aslam village, east of Baji, Tikrit.
On September 20, a bomb killed two and injured seven members of al-Sahwa south of Baghdad. Also south of Baghdad, in the Mada’in district, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) killed one and injured five civilians. Another IED detonated in al-Obaidi area, east of Baghdad, killing one and injuring five civilians.
Erik Gustafson is the Executive Director and Taif Jany is Program Manager at EPIC. They would like to thank Brian Nichols, Alexsandra Canedo, and Tanesha Singletary for their research support. ISHM’s research methodology was developed by Ahmed Ali.
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