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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BAGHDAD4622
2006-12-19 14:55:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

DISABLED IN IRAQ: HANDICAPPED SOCIETY DESCRIBES

Tags:   KDEM  PHUM  PGOV  SOCI  IZ 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO8940
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #4622/01 3531455
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191455Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8591
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC//
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004622 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2016
TAGS: KDEM PHUM PGOV SOCI IZ
SUBJECT: DISABLED IN IRAQ: HANDICAPPED SOCIETY DESCRIBES
POLITICAL MARGINALIZATION, POOR SERVICES


Classified By: POLCOUNS MARGARET SCOBEY FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d)


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004622

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2016
TAGS: KDEM PHUM PGOV SOCI IZ
SUBJECT: DISABLED IN IRAQ: HANDICAPPED SOCIETY DESCRIBES
POLITICAL MARGINALIZATION, POOR SERVICES


Classified By: POLCOUNS MARGARET SCOBEY FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) Summary. Members of the Iraqi Handicapped Society
(IHS) told Emboffs
December 13 that physically and mentally handicapped persons
continued to be
marginalized in Iraq, receiving little political attention or
services from
the government. "In the old regime, Saddam paid little
attention to the
disabled, except for veterans of the Iraq-Iran war. Now even
they are
ignored". IHS head Mowaffoq al-Khafaji added that the level
of violence had
detracted attention from social issues like those championed
by his NGO,
while contributing to an increased disabled population,
estimated to be
between 1-2 million. He agreed that the Ministry of Labor
and Social
Affairs (MOLSA) provided services to handicapped persons,
such as job
training and employment, but said that the services were
sub-par and
benefited a very small portion of the population. He added
that southern
Iraq in particular had little to no social support or
awareness for the
handicapped population. IHS, comprised of 60,000 members and
supported by
international funding, is a non-profit organization that
facilitates
awareness campaigns and lobbies on behalf of handicapped
persons. End
Summary.

-------------- --------------
WE'RE IN A DEMOCRACY, YET WE HAVE NO POLITICAL VOICE
-------------- --------------


2. (C) In a conversation December 13, IHS members Mowaffoq
al-Khafaji and
Ahmed LNU told EmbOffs that they were disappointed that the
new democracy
had not yet produced the hoped for results for the disabled
population.
They complained that both the former regime and present day
Iraq ignored the
plight of the disabled population--though he pointed out that
at least
during Saddam Hussein's regime, disabled veterans were
provided with plots
of lands and stipends. "We have no political voice; we do

not have a
committee in parliament, nor anyone who represents us even
though our
numbers are so large". Al-Khafaji acknowledged that there
were no reliable
statistics on hand for the disabled population, but estimated
that between 1
and 2 million Iraqis were physically or mentally disabled, a
number that was
growing each day with the continued violence.


3. (C) IHS member Ahmed described their efforts to lobby
political party
leaders and local and national level politicians, noting that
they received
the most support from female politicians as well as KRG
officials. From
Baghdad leaders, he reported, he received lukewarm attention,
and in some
cases some outright antagonism on the part of local city
council leaders who
were clear in saying that disabled veterans from the
Iran-Iraq war should
not be allowed any services. Al-Khafaji noted that the
social and political
support system for the population was extremely undeveloped
in southern Iraq
while in Kurdistan awareness and services was much more
extensive -- which
he attributed to a longer period of NGO existence in the KRG
region.

--------------
SERVICES EITHER POOR OR NON-EXISTANT
--------------


BAGHDAD 00004622 002 OF 002



4. (C) Al-Khafaji explained that the handicapped population
was beset by
poor social and health services overall. Little specialty
care was
available, let alone good health services overall.
Prosthetics and other
specialized medical items were very seldom available. Though
acknowledging
that MOLSA did provide services and in some cases employment
to the
disabled, he argued that MOLSA provided services on such a
small scale as to
make their services negligible over all. Al-Khafaji
indicated that several
specialty schools existed in Baghdad as well as homes for
extremely disabled
persons, but that the schools were private and meant for
those with
sufficient means.


5. (C) In a previous conversation in early December, MOLSA
services director
Layla Kadhim told Poloff that her directorate provided
employment skills
workshops to hundreds of handicapped persons, and funded
several homes
(currently holding a total of 50 people) for the severely
disabled. She
bemoaned the lack of staff expertise in dealing with the
disabled population
and requested that training be given to her staff who only
knew how to give
basic care.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


6. (C) Many of the issues that this NGO described (e.g.,
limited services and
poor health care) are issues faced by the whole population
but which
impact the disabled population to an even greater degree. The
Council of
Representatives Committee on Martyrs, Victims, and Political
Prisoners is
charged with following up on the affairs of people with
special needs.
However, members of the committee have generally described
their focus as
"violence victims-oriented". Both MoLSA and even the
Ministry of Human
Rights provide some compensation to special needs population,
but both
ministries acknowledge that they can only provide a small
amount. As such,
the needs and concerns of Iraq's disabled go largely unmet.
One Iraqi NGO
worker recently commented to Poloff that most Iraqis' biggest
fear is not
death as a result of a terrorist or militia attack, but
rather becoming
severely disabled and, in their view, a burden to family
members who would
receive little if any assistance from the state.
KHALILZAD