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By Refugees International

The best solution for most displaced Iraqis is to return home, but the Government of Iraq and the international community must first establish safe conditions for them, a new field report by Refugees International (RI) said today. “Iraq: Preventing the Point of No Return” notes that despite encouraging returns, the Government of Iraq has not realistically assessed the country’s ability to absorb large numbers of returns. RI found that Iraqis who have returned struggle to find shelter, electricity, water, jobs and access to health care.

“There is immense pressure on displaced Iraqis to return home. The problem is that they return home to ethnically cleansed neighborhoods and poor government services,” said RI President Ken Bacon. “Today marks the 6th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. The U.S., its allies and the UN need to provide Iraq with the necessary financial and technical assistance to help Iraqis return home and rebuild their lives.”

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By USAID, U.S. Angecy for International Development

Before the Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
United States Senate

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify before this Committee concerning assistance for civilian victims of war by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Twenty years after the creation of the Patrick Leahy War Victims Fund, we have an important story to tell of changed lives, hopeful livelihoods, and respect for the dignity of women and men who have endured severe physical and emotional trauma.

War and civil strife continue to cause death and destruction around the world. The consequences for civilians are devastating: families lose their breadwinner, and men, women, and children suffer physical injuries that dramatically changed their assumptions about how they will live and provide for themselves and their families. The statistics are alarming:

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Philippine authorities Sunday rejected fresh demands by Muslim militants for government forces to withdraw from a wide area of a southern island where the rebels were holding captive two European Red Cross workers.

The al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebel group also renewed their threat to kill the two hostages – Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni – unless troops pulled back from their jungle hideout on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

The rebels freed one of the hostages, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, last Thursday without ransom. But they refused to free the two Europeans and reiterated their demand for troops to pull out to pave the way for negotiations.

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By United Nations Children’s Fund

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

GENEVA, 3 April 2009 – Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to pose an enormous threat to children worldwide, UNICEF noted today in the lead up to the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April.

Every day, civilians in dozens of countries around the world are injured and killed by landmines and other lethal leftovers of conflict, years after hostilities of war have ended. In 2007 alone, an estimated 5,426 people were killed or maimed by mines and other explosive devices that have been left behind by armed forces.

Children – particularly boys – are most likely to be harmed and account for over 30 per cent of all victims of landmines and ERW, which they often mistake for toys.

Approximately 60 per cent of ERW casualties in 2007 were children – some 49 per cent were boys, with girls making up around 12 per cent of the victims.

Injuries can include loss of arms and legs, sight or hearing and often cause lifelong disabilities that mean victims require urgent care and long-term support. However, in some countries where these injuries occur, the absence of medical care and rehabilitation capacity means children are unable to attend school and thus their prospects in life are limited.

When parents are killed or maimed by landmines, the lives of children are also severely affected. Childhood without one or both parents may be marred by inadequate nutrition or immunization, lack of protection from exploitation and abuse, or early withdrawal from school to supplement family income.

Uncleared landmines/ERW also interrupt the lives of whole communities. Accessing homes, schools, health and other social services, can become a challenge and when farmlands become mine fields, well-being and livelihoods of families are also damaged.

As of August 2008 – a decade after the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force – over 70 states are still believed to be affected by mines. Over 25 states are contaminated by unexploded cluster bombs and submunitions.

The elimination of landmines and ERW and improved capacities to meet the needs of victims and assist with their reintegration into societies are essential, if children in affected countries are to be able reach their full potential. This requires international and donor assistance to support countries and organizations working to reduce the damage caused by landmines and ERW.

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-7QS4A2?OpenDocument

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