There has been very little news lately of what is going on with the refugees of the fighting in Fallujah.
I'm assuming at least 200,000 people are without homes as the fighting seems to have destroyed pretty much every building standing.
Where are they?
Here's some dated info from late November:
Abel Hamid Salim, spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) in Baghdad told IPS that "while the MOH (ministry of health) gave their approval to transport aid to the refugees of Fallujah, they had provided the IRC no support of materials." He said they had no word yet when refugee families will be allowed to return to Fallujah.
Musir Khasem Ali who heads the public relations department of the health ministry says there are more than 400,000 refugees from Fallujah. He was unable to provide any details about how his ministry was assisting the refugees who are now spread all over central Iraq.
Fellow Iraqis rather than the government or even non-governmental organisations are providing most of the aid the refugees need.
The ministry claims to have done the necessary. "We provided everything the refugees needed," says Shehab Ahmed Jassim who is in charge of managing the refugee crisis for the ministry of health. "We sent 20 ambulances to the general hospital in Fallujah."
But none of these ambulances actually entered the city area. The Fallujah general hospital remained a no-go zone for people in the city trapped in their homes until very recently.
The refugees meanwhile continue to suffer. "We are aware that in the camps now there are severe problems of diarrhea, colds, flu and lack of electricity and clean water," Jassim said.
When the refugees do get to go home, they will have a big surprise in store!
FALLUJAH, Iraq, Dec. 9 -- When the residents of Fallujah begin trickling back to their devastated city, they will be routed through sandbagged checkpoints where U.S. and Iraqi troops will take their fingerprints, issue ID cards and in some cases scan their irises, part of an elaborate plan to keep insurgents out of the former radical militant stronghold.
Five checkpoints have been set up leading into Fallujah, with roads south of the city blocked by sand berms, said Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
All men of military age will be processed using a central database; they will be photographed, fingerprinted and have iris scans taken before being issued ID cards. The entire process should take about 10 minutes per man, Sattler said.
No civilian vehicles will be permitted within city limits as a precaution against car bombs, which, along with roadside bombs, are the deadliest weapons in the insurgent arsenal, Sattler said. All cars will be left on the outskirts of Fallujah, and residents will be bused to their homes, district by district.
Dhar Jamail adds:
Another example of the winning of hearts and minds of Iraqis is being formulated for the residents of Fallujah. The military has announced the plans it is considering to use for allowing Fallujans back into their city.
They will set up "processing centers" on the outskirts of the city and compile a database of peoples' identities by using DNA testing and retina scans. Residents will then receive a badge which identifies them with their home address, which they must wear at all times.
Another idea being kicked around is to require the men to work for pay in military-style battalions where these "work brigades" will reconstruct buildings and the water system, depending on the men's skills.
There will also be "rubble-clearing" platoons.
The intent of the US commanders and Iraqi leaders is to make Fallujah a "model city."
Stratigic Hamlet Program '04
From the 'where have I heard this before' department...
In Vietnam they got the bright idea of locking up entire villages to keep the population away from the Viet Cong.
From All Reference:
"The cornerstone of the counterinsurgency [U.S.] effort was the strategic hamlet program, which called for the consolidation of 14,000 villages of South Vietnam into 11,000 secure hamlets, each with its own houses, schools, wells, and watchtowers.
The hamlets were intended to isolate guerrillas from the villages, their source of supplies and information, or, in Maoist terminology, to separate the fish from the sea in which they swim.
The program had its problems, however, aside from the frequent attacks on the hamlets by guerrilla units. The self-defense units for the hamlets were often poorly trained, and support from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was inadequate.
Corruption, favoritism, and the resentment of a growing number of peasants who were forcibly being forced to resettled plagued the program. It was estimated that of the 8,000 hamlets established, only 1,500 were viable."
Sounds like the whole of Iraq.