Iraqi women afraid to walk the streets alone

 Security is still the biggest concern for most people in Iraq, Christian Aid reports. Staff, currently working with partners in Kerballah, report that frustrations continue to mount over the inability of coalition forces to re-establish basic services and provide security. The main concern among people in the city of Kerballah, where Christian Aid staff, Emma Wadie and Sarah Moss, are helping to train staff of Iraqi Refugee Aid Council (IRAC), is that despite the continued presence of foreign troops, the security situation is very poor. Banditry on the roads is now widespread and criminality is prevalent. The Shia population of Kerballah in south/central Iraq are also anxious about their economic future as low incomes and unemployment means people continue to rely on food aid. Many are concerned about what will happen to basic food provisions when the Oil For Food programme comes to an end in November and are calling for it to continue for at least six months. Many of the women our staff have spoken to no longer feel safe to walk the streets alone. The Coalition Forces do not patrol in Kerballah city and there's no Iraqi police force to speak of. The general feeling in Kerballah is that foreign troops should leave as soon as possible. People want to see elections take place - leading to full Iraqi self-rule. Although the main Iraqi political parties have now agreed to co-operate with an interim administration which will include 25 Iraqi nationals, appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) chief Paul Bremer, it seems that this will fall short of the aspirations of the Iraqi people. Christian Aid Emergency Response Co-ordinator, Neil Garvie, is working in the northern city of Kirkuk with Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health (REACH) to assist displaced people. As Kurds return to the area, some communities have come to agreement over land and property rights. Mr Garvie reports that most of the communities - Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Christian - seem to express the wish to live in peace together, but some inter-ethnic clashes continue. As well as mediating between groups embroiled in disputes, REACH is also working to improve water and sanitation systems in Kirkuk's poorest communities. Christian Aid's programme manager, Rehana Kirthisingha, is helping the Iraqi Kurdistan NGO Network (IKNN) to set up offices in Baghdad. The network was originally formed to represent NGO's working in the former autonomous Kurdish region in the north. Now that access to the rest of the country is possible, IKNN is expanding its work to represent new organisations being formed in the centre and south where NGO's were not permitted under Saddam's regime. Source: Christian Aid

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