The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.To put that number into perspective that is roughly 4.5% of the population. If we were to have the same percentage of Americans flee their homes, we would empty the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Despite some evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas, sectarian violence continues and American-led operations have brought new fighting, driving fearful Iraqis from their homes at much higher rates than before the tens of thousands of additional troops arrived, the studies show.
The data track what are known as internally displaced Iraqis: those who have been driven from their neighborhoods and seek refuge elsewhere in the country rather than fleeing across the border. The effect of this vast migration is to drain religiously mixed areas in the center of Iraq, sending Shiite refugees toward the overwhelmingly Shiite areas to the south and Sunnis toward majority Sunni regions to the west and north.
Though most displaced Iraqis say they would like to return, there is little prospect of their doing so. One Sunni Arab who had been driven out of the Baghdad neighborhood of southern Dora by Shiite snipers said she doubted that her family would ever return, buildup or no buildup.
“There is no way we would go back,” said the woman, 26, who gave her name only as Aswaidi. “It is a city of ghosts. The only people left there are terrorists.”
Statistics collected by one of the two humanitarian groups, the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization, indicate that the total number of internally displaced Iraqis has more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000, since the buildup started in February.
Iraq is a humanitarian nightmare. How can anyone think we can restore stability to a country with so much of its population displaced, many homeless and most without basic services. You can not completely understand the situation in Iraq until you know the real facts. What we have done to Iraq as a result of this ill advised invasion is criminal.