[Editor’s Note: Please check out an awesome new project coming out of Syria, Native Without a Nation is an effort to connect Iraqi students who are refugees in Syria with American students and others. By building bonds, understanding, and giving a face to Iraqis in trouble, we can improve our comprehension of the war in Iraq and its impact.]
Baghdad, Iraq - Shama’iya - The Shama’iya district is in far east Baghdad, although considered a part of the capital, the sprawling metropolis is perhaps more accurately seen as a series of boroughs than one contiguous city. Shama’iya is a relatively new district, and, strangely in the crisis-ridden capital, has been relatively calm since the beginning of the invasion. Shama’iya is the home of a large mental hospital, and perhaps the only noteworthy element of the district for many Baghdadis.
To Shama’iya residents, the most noteworthy element is the ever-present sewage water polluting the streets, filling some roads nearly completely. Although you might not know it on first glance, Shama’iya is not simply a neighborhood of the poor and indigent, forgotten by the capital and municipal government. Shama’iya is the home of doctors, engineers, and journalists, as well as more “mundane” peoples.
Iraq is undergoing a cholera epidemic, exacerbated by the failing sewer system in the capital and excess of stagnant sewage polluting Baghdad and much of the rest of the country. While security may be improving, there seems to be little movement to improve access to basic necessities such as clean water and electricity.
Despite being a calm district, which its residents claim has seen no major disasters, terrorist attacks, or other traumatic events, the Baghdad and 9th April Municipalities claim they cannot assist the residents in repairing the broken sewer system due to security concerns. The residents themselves told Alive in Baghdad the issues are due more to corruption and waste than any actual security issues at hand. While the government fails to rebuild even the calm districts, its left to question how more restive areas can ever hope to get back on their feet.
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