Report: Iraq Violence Leading to Abortions, Drug Abuse Among Civilians

Pregnant Iraqi women who have been forced from their homes by worsening violence are obtaining illegal abortions because they are unable to get medical care for themselves and their unborn, according to a new report by a national humanitarian group.

A record number of Iraqis -- most of them women and children -- are fleeing their homes to escape the bloodshed of sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks, according to a new report by the Iraqi Red Crescent organization, the largest aid group operating in Iraq.

Health care is inadequate and difficult to access for those people, according to the IRC report. 

"Pregnant women, infants and children are unable to get...required medical care," states the report, which was translated from Arabic, "and criminal abortion became [sic] the norms."

Rape, theft and drug addiction have also become "commonplace" among the displaced, who live in government buildings, at relatives' homes, tents, or squat in abandoned homes or makeshift huts on empty land, according to the report, which was first noted on the Iraq news site Iraqslogger.com.

The number of "internally displaced persons" -- refugees who leave their homes but remain in the country -- has quadrupled since January, the group found.  As of May 2007, 1,024,430 Iraqis have left their neighborhoods to live in safer regions, the group reported, with more than 400,000 people pouring out of the areas around Baghdad and Mosul, which have been plagued by sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks.

More than 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country entirely, according to the United Nations.

The report by Iraqi Red Crescent, which says its personnel reach every village in Iraq, comes on the heels of a May report from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which warned of the "immense suffering" caused by the ongoing conflict.

"Shootings, bombings, abductions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere in Iraq or in neighbouring countries," the group said, noting that food is scarce in some regions, and power shortages are worsening.

"The outlook is bleak," the Red Cross noted, and "likely to worsen."

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