Another College Year in Baghdad - 06.02.2008

Baghdad, Iraq - Some of the people among Iraqi society most affected by the war are the students; there are about five million students all over Iraq. These students are facing a great danger because they go out in the streets regularly, heading to their schools, colleges, or universities. The girls are facing the risk of being kidnapped or attacked if they donít wear a veil or scarf, the boys facing the risk of being kidnapped by the militias controlling the area around their school. Unfortunately many accidents happened between the years of 2004 and 2007, such as the blast that took place in the Mustansariya University and killed 22 student and left more than 40 wounded, or the blast that took place at Al-Nahrein University and killed 15 and left about 50 wounded.

The other problems facing the students is transportation. For some students living in areas like Abu Ghraib or Ghazaliya, itís too difficult for them to get to Baghdad University or any other university in the middle of Baghdad, because sometimes the roads are blocked due to the constant problems happening in those neighborhoods, such as car bomb attacks or battles occurring between insurgents and the US military. When an attack happens, normally the US military or the Iraqi forces block the road or the neighborhood after a car bomb attack or a battle as a security and safety measure. In this situation, the students have to wait until the road is open again in order to continue on theri way to school. It became normal for a student to miss the first and the second class of the day due to the difficulties of the transportation and the road blocks.

Some students fled Iraq after they received death threats or were kidnapped by one of the militias. Some of them were lucky and have been able to continue their studies in Jordan or Syria. The majority were not because most of them could not afford it or lost their high school or college certificates. Some projects such as the Iraqi Student Project are helping Iraqi students to get full scholarships in the US in order to continue their studies in the United States.

The security condition now in Baghdad appears to be much better than before. The Sahwa forces have helped with restoring security in some neighborhoods in and around Baghdad, and that helped the students improve the chance to go on with their studies. However there are still a large number of students whom cannot reach their school, due to where they live in Baghdad or what school they are attending now. For example the schools in Sadr City are still controlled by the fear of being attacked or the risk of explosions and ongoing operations there. Overall, the situation appears to be improving, and as this school year ends many are hopeful that the autumn will bring a more stable and comfortable learning environment.

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