Survey reveals life has worsened for Iraq's poor

 The quality of life for Iraq's poor has deteriorated since the defeat of the Saddam regime, according to a new survey commissioned by Christian Aid. The Baghdad Vulnerability Survey concluded this week that: "Poor Iraqis suffered enormously under Saddam Hussein's regime, yet the present stage of reconstruction is in some ways even more difficult. During the Saddam years, the war was at the front line; now it has moved into their own streets." Christian Aid partner, the Iraqi Kurdish NGO Network, interviewed around 1,000 families in eight of Baghdad's poorest, predominantly Shia neighbourhoods. It is one of the first ever large-scale surveys of the living conditions of poor Iraqis. "Before the fall of Saddam Hussein, the whole of Iraqi society suffered years of war and sanctions, but its poorest people were hit particularly severely," said Christian Aid Middle East expert, Sue Turrel. "In Baghdad, the Shia south was systematically deprived of services and investment as a way of suppressing local resistance to Saddam Hussein's regime." The survey looks at all aspects of the lives of families who depend on outside help - such as food handouts or cash donations from friends or relatives. It particularly looks at the situation of women and children. The results present a stark picture of miserable living conditions - now greatly exacerbated by insecurity, crime, economic uncertainty, unemployment, inadequate public services and poor housing. Mass redundancy and rising living costs mean more than half the families surveyed need financial help to survive. Families prioritised clothing, transport, health and education needs as most urgent. Children's education is being severely disrupted. Almost two-thirds of school-age children in the families surveyed were not attending school full time. The reasons given included poor standards of education, dilapidated school buildings and children forced to work to boost family income. Poor water supply affects most of the families interviewed, many of which now have no functioning sewerage system. Years of neglect left many water supplies contaminated with sewage. Most families surveyed live in just one or two rooms and many homes lacked basic facilities such as water, sanitation and ventilation. "This increasing deprivation is likely to feed discontent and insecurity and increase the appeal of radical ideologies", said Ms Turrel. "Decent provision for Iraq's poor is crucial to the country's security and to reconstruction." Source: Christian Aid

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