ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

ISHM 58: April 8 – 14, 2016

ISHM LOGOKey Takeaways:

  • According to the Head of the Hit District Council in Anbar, Mohammed Mohanad al-Hiti, announced last week that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) with the assistance of U.S.-led international coalition have cleared 85% of the city of Hit to the west of Ramadi from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). With U.S.-led air support, ISF, PMUs, and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces clashed with ISIS fighters in the villages of al-Nasr and Makhmour, south of Mosul. However, over the past week, there have been no significant territorial gains made against ISIS in Mosul. Over the past weekend, in the northern province of Kirkuk, Turkmen PMUs advanced on the ISIS-held village of al-Bashir, surrounding the village and penetrating ISIS-held areas. As previously reported by ISHM, ISIS militants in al-Bashir are among those who have used chemical weapons, most notably against the civilian population of Taza.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States is providing nearly US$155 million in additional emergency humanitarian assistance to displaced and conflict-affected Iraqis within Iraq and throughout the region. This new funding brings the total U.S. contribution for the Iraq humanitarian response to more than US$778 million since the start of Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. Although Secretary Kerry’s announcement is welcome, the UN’s 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq to reach 7.3 million of Iraq’s estimated 10 million people in need remains woefully underfunded. On April 9, the UN Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq reported that only 20% of the UN’s US$861 million humanitarian appeal has been funded to date—leaving a US$689 million shortfall affecting millions of vulnerable Iraqis.
  • This week, Iraq’s Parliament vehemently disagreed on reforming the Cabinet. After six of Prime Minister (PM) Haider al-Abadi’s initial nominees were rejected by Parliament, PM al-Abadi presented a new list of ministerial candidates. On Tuesday, PM al-Abadi introduced a new list of candidates for his Cabinet of Ministers. The new list includes:
    • Falih al-Fayadh as Minister of Foreign Affairs,
    • Mousa al-Mousawi as Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research,
    • Salah Rasheed Muharib as Minister of Electricity,
    • Jabar Ali as Minister of Oil, and
    • Ala’a Hussein as Minister of Health.
  • PM al-Abadi and Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri postponed voting on the new list until today. Many Members of Parliament (MPs) staged a sit-in inside Parliament protesting the new list of Cabinet nominees and decision to delay the vote. The following day, 171 MPs signed a petition to depose PM al-Abadi, President Fuad Masum, and Speaker al-Jubouri. On the same day, Speaker al-Jubouri met with President Masum to discuss dissolving Parliament and holding early elections, as a solution to the current political crisis in the country.
  • In Anbar, the Head of the Hit District Council, Mohammed Mohannad al-Hiti, reported that 150,000 people have been evacuated from the city due to the military operation to clear the city from ISIS. Al-Hiti indicated that the evacuees are now residing in a deserted areas west of the city and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile southeast of Hit, the Mayor of Ramadi reported that 11,150 displaced families had returned to their homes over the past week. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Iraqis internally displaced since January 2014 has grown to 3.4 million — up by nearly 74,000 from last month’s IOM estimate.
  • According to UN reports, humanitarian conditions in Fallujah are continuing to deteriorate. Civilians are still under the control of ISIS and due to the tightening siege on the city by Iraqi security forces, supplies are not reaching those in need. People are starving to death and many lack access to medical supplies. While there are accounts of limited food reaching the city through smuggling, very few families who remain can afford the exorbitant prices. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande also confirmed that ISIS is killing civilians who attempt to escape Fallujah.
  • In Basra, the head of the Teachers Union reported an increase in cases of mumps, smallpox, scabies, and other diseases among students in many schools across the province, prompting the closure of a school in the district of Abu Khasib. However Deputy Governor of Basra Asad al-Adjodi downplayed the report, claiming that such diseases are common among children and urged the public “not to dramatize these incidents.” Meanwhile in the province of Najaf, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) announced the implementation of several health education campaigns to raise awareness about various infectious diseases.

Iraq’s Joint Security Forces Clear 85% of Hit

On April 8, the U.S.-led International Coalition bombed ISIS targets in Fallujah, 62 kilometers west of Baghdad, and Saqlawiyah, 17 kilometers north of Fallujah. The airstrikes, coupled with artillery, killed 22 ISIS militants and destroyed 4 vehicles with mounted weaponry.

On April 8, Head of the Hit District Council Mohammed Mohanad al-Hiti reported that the joint security forces of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), and the International Coalition have liberated 85% of the city of Hit. Recent operations have killed 30 ISIS militants and cleared the center of Hit, allowing the Iraqi flag to be raised over the city.

On April 8, the International Coalition bombed three Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) bases in the village of al-Nasr, south of Mosul. These U.S.-led artillery strikes killed 15 ISIS militants and have injured dozens more.

On April 9, the International Coalition bombed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets in the Kirtan neighborhood of Jazirat Khalidiya, 20 kilometers east of Ramadi. The strike resulted in the deaths of 20 ISIS militants and the destruction of four vehicle-born improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and a rocket launcher.

On April 9, Turkmen forces have begun advancing on the village of al-Bashir, 35 kilometers south the city of Kirkuk and are becoming entrenched on the northern outskirts of the village. The initial battles to retake al-Bashir have seen 67 deaths of ISIS militants and dozens more wounded. The current goal of the operation is to surround the village so as to cut it off from the rest of ISIS’s territory to prepare for the imminent invasion

On April 9, the International Coalition struck ISIS targets in the villages of Haj Ali and al-Mahana, south of Makhmour. The strikes killed 25 ISIS militants and completely destroyed the defensive structures they were targeting.

On April 9, ISIS attacked the joint forces of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), and tribal fighters in the village of al-Fatha, 50 kilometers northeast of Tikrit. The joint forces were able to repel the attackers and killed 6 ISIS militants. However, one PMU soldier and four ISF soldiers were injured in the battle.

On April 10, joint forces cleared the neighborhoods of al-Qaliat and Alumal in central Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi, of ISIS militants. The operation killed dozens of militants and destroyed a number of vehicles as well.

On April 10, Turkmen forces and PMUs invaded the town of al-Bashir (35 kilometers south of Kirkuk) to clear it of ISIS militants. The operation has seen PMUs push kilometers deeper into ISIS-controlled areas, clearing large swaths of territory.

On April 10, PMUs clashed with ISIS militants west of a casbah in al-Bashir, 35 kilometers south of Kirkuk. The battle saw the deaths of 15 ISIS militants and 2 injured PMU fighters.

On April 10, a source from the Turkmen forces reported that more than 134 casualties have occurred due to battles to clear the villages of al-Bashiri, Albu Muffarej, and Mazrat al-Dawla. While 40 ISIS militants have been killed, more than 25 others wounded, and three VBIEDs destroyed, PMUs have seen 9 deaths and 60 injured soldiers, mostly due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and missile attacks.

On April 10, a suicide bomber killed Commander Abu Ahmed al-Badri of the al-Abbas brigade of PMU fighters. He was killed in the village of Albu Muffarej south of Kirkuk, during clearing operations.

On April 12, the Iraqi Air Force bombed ISIS positions in the village of Balawat, 30 kilometers north of Mosul. The strike killed 9 militants, injured 14 others, and destroyed three vehicles.

On April 13, joint forces cleared the district of al-Jamiyat al-Thaniya on the banks of the Euphrates River in Hit, 70 kilometers west of Ramadi, of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. The operation killed 33 ISIS militants and helped evacuate civilians to safer areas.


John Kerry Visits Iraq and Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Iraq

On April 8, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States is providing approximately US$155 million in additional humanitarian aid to internally displaced and conflict-affected Iraqis within Iraq and throughout the region who are in desperate need of humanitarian support. With this new funding, the U.S. humanitarian assistance for the Iraq humanitarian response amounts to more than US$778 million since the beginning of the Fiscal Year 2014.

Although Secretary Kerry’s announcement is welcome, the UN’s 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq to reach 7.3 million of Iraq’s estimated 10 million people in need remains woefully underfunded. On April 9, the UN Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq reported that only 20% of the UN’s US$861 million humanitarian appeal has been funded to date — leaving a US$689 million shortfall affecting millions of vulnerable Iraqis.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying: “The United States urges all nations to contribute robustly to United Nations humanitarian appeals for Iraq. Despite continuing support from the United States, more needs to be done, and the international community’s help is urgently needed.”


Iraq’s Abadi and Parliament at Loggerheads over New Cabinet Nominees and Reforms

On April 8, the number of cabinet nominees rejected by parliamentary committees increased to six.

On April 11, the Salah ad-Din Provincial Council voted by absolute majority to elect Ahmed Abdullah al-Jabouri to Governor of Salah ad-Din, over incumbent Governor Raed al-Jabouri.

On April 12, Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi introduced a new list of candidates for his cabinet of ministers. The new list included Falih al-Fayadh as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mousa al-Mousawi as Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Salah Rasheed Muharib as Minister of Electricity, Jabar Ali as Minister of Oil, and Alaa Hussein as Minister of Health. Due to this new list, PM al-Abadi, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri, and other parliamentary leaders decided to postpone voting on the new cabinet until Thursday. This decision triggered a protest in Parliament from a large number of MPs.

On April 13, Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri convened an emergency meeting of Parliament to confirm the list of candidates for the new cabinet of ministers. This came at the request of 61 MPs, following a divisive session on April 12.

On April 13, MP Ahmed al-Jabouri said 171 members of Parliament signed a petition to depose the “three presidencies”: Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Fuad Masum, and Speaker of the Parliament Salim al-Jabouri.

On April 13, an anonymous “parliamentary source” reported that Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri requested that President of Iraq Fuad Masum dissolve Parliament and hold early elections in order to resolve the current political crisis in Iraq.


Update on the Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq

On April 9, the Mayor of Ramadi Ibrahim al-Osaj announced the return of 11,150 families to the liberated areas of Ramadi, Anbar province, over the past couple of days. Al-Osaj noted that “other waves of returnees will be arriving today”, and that, “ad hoc committees will accompany returning families from the port of Bzeibiz and Amiriyah Fallujah to the liberated areas in order to prevent civilians from entering areas that have not been fully cleared of improvised explosive devices and other remnants of war”.

On April 9, an official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Makhmour, Rashad Klaly, announced the escape of approximately 300 people from the villages of Kanisat and Khalidiyah, west of Makhmour, which are under control by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), to areas under the control of Peshmerga forces. Klaly noted that most of the escapees were women and children.

On April 10, the Head of the Hit District Council, Mohammed Mohannad al-Hiti, in Anbar province announced that 150,000 people have been evacuated from the city and are in need of humanitarian assistance. According to al-Hiti, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were placed in a rough desert area four days ago and are “suffering from very difficult humanitarian situations,” noting that, “they have not been transferred to Anbar’s reception centers for the displaced.”

On April 10, a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) report illustrated that the UN and its 180 humanitarian partners are reaching more than 2 million Iraqis every month with aid. Food security partners provide help to an average of 1.6 million people each month; the Education Cluster reaches half a million children with some form of emergency education assistance; and health partners have reached over 1.3 million people with consultations this year and vaccinated 5.5 million children under 5 years of age against polio. Additionally, a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqi families receive shelter support. It is important to remember that the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq in 2016 called for US$861 million to reach 7.3 million people in need across the country. However, the UN Office of Resident and Humanitarian Conditions in Iraq reported on April 9 that only 20% of the UN humanitarian appeal has been funded so far.

On April 13, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed US$41 million to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Iraq in order to provide vital food assistance for over 1.3 million displaced Iraqis for two and half months, in addition to food vouchers for 370,000 people for one month. Immediate response rations will be provided to as many as 140,000 people for three months. Since January 2014, the conflict in Iraq has resulted in the displacement of more than 3.4 million Iraqis. WFP is currently reaching 1.5 million displaced people each month with food assistance. Since the start of the conflict in 2014, USAID has contributed a total of US$88.6 million to WFP’s emergency operation in Iraq.

On April 14, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) identified 3,418,332 internally displaced persons (IDPs) (569,722 families) from January 2014 to March 31, 2016 dispersed across 105 districts and 3,785 locations in Iraq. The provinces hosting the largest IDP populations are Baghdad, Anbar, and Dohuk, with a total of 1,633,362 individuals, corresponding to 48% of the total IDP population. A total of 76% of the displaced population (2,612,280 individuals) have fled from two provinces only, Anbar and Ninewa. The total number of identified IDPs recorded an increase of 2%, 73,998 individuals, and the returnee population decreased by 1%, or 4,296 individuals, particularly in Anbar.


The UN ‘Profoundly Worried’ about the Deteriorating Situation in Fallujah

On April 9, the United Nations reported that humanitarian conditions in Fallujah are worsening and human suffering increasing. Civilians are at extreme risk under the control of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and with the siege of Fallujah tightening, supplies are not reaching civilians. In late March, the Iraqi government informed the United Nations that it has plans to open safe corridors to allow civilians to exit the city. Lise Grande, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, revealed that the UN has received reports that ISIS has killed civilians attempting to leave and controls potential escape routes. Grande added that, “we are profoundly worried about Fallujah. There are reports of widespread food shortages and lack of medicines”, while stating that “all parties to the conflict have to do everything possible to protect civilians and respect their right to receive life-saving humanitarian support”. The United Nations currently does not have access to Fallujah.

While there are accounts of limited food reaching the city through smuggling, very few families who remain can afford the exorbitant prices. One woman in Fallujah said: “I have eight kids and there is nothing to feed them. No rice, no flour, not even dates.” She also added “We are not Daesh… we are victims who have no power.”


Outbreak of Infectious Diseases Reported in Basra’s Schools

On April 10, head of the Teachers Union in Basra province, Jawad Almryosh, announced that a number of schools in the district of Abu Khasib, including Tunisia School and Talaa Hamzah, recorded the spread of mumps, smallpox, scabies and other infectious diseases as a result of negligence towards health conditions in schools and lack of follow-up procedures. Almyrosh noted the closure of one of the schools located in the district of Abu Khasib. Deputy Governor of Basra Asad al-Ajodi, however, said in a statement “not to dramatize these injuries because they are not unusual among children,” and that “mumps is a natural seasonal disease that affects thousands of children annually in the province,” so there is no real need to shut down schools.

On April 10, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) an-Najaf branch announced the implementation of several health and educational campaigns that aim to promote awareness of communicable diseases and non-transitional diseases, skin disease, cholera, and polio, as well as first aid and psychosocial support to displaced families and citizens in the Kufa, Mashkabb, and Manathirah districts of Najaf province.

DatesLocationDeathsInjuries
04/08/16Abu Dashir,
Southern Baghdad
18
04/08/16Al-Andalus,
Central Ramadi
03
04/08/16al-Tarmia,
North of Baghdad
27
04/08/16Muqdadiyah,
Northeast of Baquba
20
04/08/16al-Bayaa,
Southwestern Baghdad
27
04/08/16Nafaq al-Shurta,
Western Baghdad
11
04/09/16Jisr Diyala,
Southeastern Baghdad
25
04/09/16al-Binouk,
Eastern Baghdad
10
04/09/16Sabaa al-Bour,
North of Baghdad
28
04/09/16al-Zab,
Southwest of Kirkuk
100
04/09/16al-Iskan,
Western Baghdad
25
04/09/16al-Suwaib,
Southwestern Baghdad
18
04/09/16al-Wardia,
South of Baghdad
29
04/10/16al-Haniyat,
West of Kirkuk
30
04/10/16al-Tarmia,
North of Baghdad
24
04/10/16Sha’ab,
Northeastern Baghdad
15
04/10/16Albu Jassim,
East of Fallujah
40
04/10/16Hit,
West of Ramadi
610
04/10/16al-Shula,
Northwestern Baghdad
26
04/10/16al-Mashtal,
East of Baghdad
15
04/10/16Yusufiyah,
South of Baghdad
14
04/11/16al-Za’franiyah,
Southeast of Baghdad
17
04/11/16Bakri,
Western Baghdad
29
04/11/16Nahrawan,
Southeast of Baghdad
25
04/11/16Hayy Jukuk,
Northwestern Baghdad
04
04/12/16al-Mada'in,
South of Baghdad
25
04/12/16Sheikh Omar,
Central Baghdad
15
04/12/16Baladiyat,
Eastern Baghdad
10
04/12/16Husseiniya,
North of Baghdad
22
04/12/16al-Obeidi,
Eastern Baghdad
16
04/12/16Baladiyat,
Eastern Baghdad
10
04/13/16Camp Sarah,
Central Baghdad
24
04/13/16Dora,
Southern Baghdad
15
04/13/16Abu Dashir,
Southern Baghdad
15
04/13/16al-Amin al-Thaniyah,
Eastern Baghdad
25
04/14/16al-Suwaib,
Southwestern Baghdad
14
04/14/16Mahmudiya,
South of Baghdad
27
04/14/16al-Multaqa,
West of Kirkuk
02
04/14/16al-Mahdia,
Southern Baghdad
10

Derived from firsthand accounts and Iraq-based Arabic and Kurdish news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor (ISHM) was developed by EPIC Senior Visiting Fellow Ahmed Ali (@IraqShamel). This week’s report (ISHM No. 58) was compiled and authored by EPIC Program Manager Taif Jany (@TaifJany).


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