Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

CISR envisions a world where people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster.

We help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange, and direct services such as:

Mine Risk Education
Peer Support
Management Training
Scientific Research
Publications
Who I Follow
Posts tagged "iraq"

cjchivers:

The Secret Victims of Iraq’s Chemical Arms

Aged shells and warheads. Officers who ordered wounded troops to silence. Substandard medical care (and even denial of treatment) to Iraqis and Americans who were exposed. American-designed mustard shells in the corroded vestiges of Saddam Hussein’s old chemical stockpile.  Honors denied to troops who served in some of the most dangerous jobs of the most recent Iraq War.

On The New York Times: An untold chronicle of the United States’ long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

An investigation many months in works, and at last in print. Heres why:  

Reporting was contributed by John Ismay, Duraid Ahmed, Omar al-Jawoshy, Mac William Bishop and Eric Schmitt. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Produced by Craig Allen, David Furst, Alicia DeSantis, Sergio Peçanha, Shreeya Sinha, Frank O’Connell, Derek Watkins and Josh Williams.

With editing by Michael Slackman and Matt Purdy, and photographs by Tyler Hicks

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

Leaking 155-mm mustard agent shells among those that wounded five American soldiers near Taji, Iraq in 2008

cjchivers:

American Ammunition in Islamic State’s Hands.

Documented in detail with a fine bit of field research by Conflict Armament Research, a private organization that tracks weapons and the arms trade.

Details here. Brief excerpt below.

In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group, according to new field data gathered by a private arms-tracking organization.

The data, part of a larger sample of captured arms and cartridges in Syria and Iraq, carries an implicit warning for policy makers and advocates of intervention.

It suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role.

“The lesson learned here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition,” said James Bevan, director of Conflict Armament Research, the organization that is gathering and analyzing weapons used by the Islamic State. 

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

An unfired 5.56-mm cartridge from Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, dated 2006, seized from Islamic State by Kurdish fighters in Iraq in July. Courtesy of Conflict Armament Research.

 

 

Analysis of small-calibre ammunition recovered from Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.

This Dispatch from the Field‘s findings derive from a series of Conflict Armament Research (CAR) field investigations conducted in the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq and northern Syria 22 July–15 August 2014.

CISR Associate Director Suzanne Fiederlein and Grants Officer Nicole Neitzey attended the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement planning conference for Iraq and Syria programs in Istanbul, Turkey, this week. While there, they met up with ERWTC Jordan graduate and P2R Lebanon participant Mohammad Al-Naqib, representing Spirit Of Soccer.

CISR Associate Director Suzanne Fiederlein and Grants Officer Nicole Neitzey attended the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement planning conference for Iraq and Syria programs in Istanbul, Turkey, this week. 

While there, they met up with ERWTC Jordan graduate and P2R Lebanon participant Mohammad Al-Naqib, representing Spirit Of Soccer.

CISR raises peer-support awareness in USCRI panel on Syrian refugee crisis 

On Friday, May 23, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley participated in a concluding panel for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)’s annual National Network Conference. The panel, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., featured presentations from three experts on Syrian refugees: Macauley; Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Senior Advisor for Government Relations and External Affairs Jana Mason; and National Geographic journalist and activist Aziz Abu Sarah (also a director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University). USCRI president Lavinia Limon facilitated the panel, which consisted of presentations and a 20-minute Q&A. Before introducing the panelists, Limon spoke of her visit to a camp in Jordan, stating, “I came away absolutely incensed at the terrible things these people had gone through and incensed at the national response. We’re living through a period where horror is happening … all while we’re at a conference.”

As the initial speaker, Mason provided an in-depth overview of the refugee situation in Syria to date. According to Mason, there are currently 2.8 million registered Syrian refugees, and UNHCR is prepared for 4 million before the end of the year. There is no end in sight to the conflict, and thus no foreseeable drop in refugee flow. In addition to these registered numbers, there are 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), totaling more than 9 million persons of concern. As a result, Syrian refugees and IDPs are UNHCR’s largest population of concern globally. UNHCR relief agencies and partners are forced to do vulnerability assessments when providing services. “You can only imagine how difficult it is making a vulnerability assessment when everybody is vulnerable,” Mason lamented. She also iterated several times that “this is a children’s refugee crisis.” Mason concluded, “we need development assistance now—not waiting until the crisis is over. These [host] countries need support in order to ensure that they do not close their borders to future refugees.”

In follow-up to Mason’s overview of the refugee crisis, Macauley provided an examination of psychological trauma in these refugees and how “refugees enter these camps with traumatic experiences, and then these camps provided additional layers of trauma.” When entering the camps, refugees may have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses not currently being treated. Once there, refugees may not have access to services, or even if they do, “every aspect of socialization has been affected.” From Macauley’s research, he reports that many refugees do not feel safe even after reaching camps. The Syrian conflict has specifically seen an unparalleled amount and level of sexual violence, which Macauley explains that both sides use as a weapon. He then discusses the cultural barriers impeding healing and notes that “in a society where victims of violence are further victimized, women are forced to bury their experiences.” In order to help, Macauley has facilitated trainings on providing peer support in other countries, and CISR hopes to implement this in Iraq.

The last speaker, Abu Sarah, presented the results of an article he wrote for National Geographic: “Five Things I Learned in Syrian Refugees.” Abu Sarah covered five revelations:

  1.  Many refugees are not counted.
  2.  The host countries are in crisis.
  3. Children’s education is neglected.
  4. Many Syrian refugees are still in Syria.
  5. Refugee camps are like a prison.

Abu Sarah expounded upon each point and provided anecdotes from his experiences traveling to multiple camps and conducting interviews. In his presentation, he urged the conference audience to “listen to the stories, because sometimes the numbers can be overwhelming. When it gets that way, really go back and listen to the stories, because everybody has one, and it reminds us that these are more than numbers—they’re people.”

Lastly, the session featured a Q&A panel. Several questions for Macauley focused on the role and balance of psychological support, based on the tumultuous conditions. In response, Macauley emphasized the importance of peer support, which could be carried wherever peer mentors traveled, thus hopefully resulting in a larger impact. 

Sami Noble
James Madison University Class of 2015
Master of Public Administration
Intern at Center for International Stabilization and Recovery

CISR visit to Arbat Refugee Camp, Sulaimaniyeh, Iraqi Kurdistan

A wonderful mine and unexploded ordnance risk-education show for kindergarteners in Sulaimaniyeh, Iraqi Kurdistan, under the direction of Mohammad Al Naqib’s MRE team and hosted by friend Soran Hakim. The presentation was spot on and hospitality second to none.

The giant bunny pointed at a picture of a landmine with a skull-and-crossbones beside it and asked, “Does anyone know what this is?” One child shouted out, “It’s a pot, and Mommy puts those bones in it to make soup!”

CISR’s director, Dr. Ken Rutherford, and trauma rehabilitation specialist, Cameron Macauley, arrived this evening (February 28) in Iraq with a late-night walk about Erbil to shake off jet lag.

They are preparing for a scoping mission centered on unexploded ordnance and landmine-risk education for Syrian refugees in Northern Iraq based on a CISR arts-based program that includes survivors and people with disabilities

Smoke from the controlled detonation of improvised explosive devices rises behind a U.S. Marine Corps mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Afghanistan. (AFP)

Read more …

In 2013, we mark ten years of U.S. Government assistance to Iraq for Conventional Weapons Destruction, including Humanitarian Mine Action, and are proud of the programs and partnerships that enable countless Iraqi citizens to live and work in their communities more safely. The United States has invested more than $235 million in Iraq since 2003 toward the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and excess conventional weapons and munitions. This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international nongovernmental organizations, has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term.

The Landmine/Unexploded Ordnance Challenge

Iraq faces a significant challenge from landmines and unexploded ordnance as a result of conflicts dating back to the 1940s. In addition, large stocks of abandoned ordnance and unstable, poorly-secured munitions stockpiles also remain a threat to communities across the country. In FY 2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs invested $4.3 million with the Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) to conduct a CWD program that included the destruction of 37,939 weapons, ranging from pistols to 120mm mortars.

Explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded artillery shells, mortars, and other munitions still present daily hazards to Iraqi citizens across the country. Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) conducted two Landmine Impact Surveys in 2006 and 2011 that estimated 1,513 million square meters (585 square miles) of land in Iraq contain as many as 20 million landmines and millions more pieces of unexploded ordnance.

Read more …