Peggy Gish from the christian Peacemaker Team in northern Iraq provides the following summary of life in Iraq six years after the invasion - a summary which focuses on the realities of everyday life.
After six years of war, Iraqis are living with
The deaths of an estimated million Iraqi civilians. (See http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL3048857920080130)
A devastated society and infrastructure. Water is still contaminated. The average Iraqi has an average of four hours a day of electricity, and the poor have inadequate medical care.
Continuing economic crisis. Sixty percent of the families rely on the food rations, which have been reduced. Unemployment is over 50%. Prices of food and fuel have increased, but not wages.
Widespread anger and despair about their living conditions.
The threat of torture, coerced confessions, and false imprisonment. Iraqis are in control of prisons and "security," but Iraqis often feel terrorized by special-forces police, trained and equipped by U.S. personnel who also trained death squads in Latin America. Many Iraqis say that the ways of Saddam continue.
Never knowing when the terrorist attacks might begin again. Violence on the streets in Central and Southern Iraq has decreased in the past six months due to repressive control, but this control has not resolved deeper problems. Iraqis in these areas wonder if the lull in the violence is temporary and still live in fear. They believe those doing greater acts of terror have simply moved to other areas such as Mosul and Baqubah, where high rates of violence continue.
Increasing violence against women and the loss of women's rights and freedoms.
Their children growing up seeing violence and killing as the norm.
Pollution from the radioactive depleted uranium used in U.S. weaponry, which has caused cancers and birth defects.
Election fraud and the killings of candidates and elected officials. Irregularities in the most recent election left about 100,000 Kurdish Iraqis unable to vote. Kurds in Kirkuk and other northern disputed areas are afraid of civil war between Arabs and Kurds, because of election manipulations.
Turkish, Iranian, and Syrian attacks on Iraqi civilians. The U.S. government has allowed Turkish military planes to fly over Iraqi airspace and has given Turkey military "intelligence" to bomb Kurdish villages along Iraq's northern borders with Turkey and Iran, causing destruction of hundreds of villages and displacement of villagers.
The internal displacement of 4.5 million Iraqis who have fled their homes.
Forces telling Iraqis that only violence and surrendering their civil rights will bring them security.
Words cannot express the anguish that the Iraqi people have experienced in these last six years. Occupying forces have exacerbated ethnic conflicts and oppressive political forces in their country. The ongoing war has caused suffering and hardship that will probably continue for generations.
For further details on the CPT delegation in IRAQ see: http://www.cpt.org/