TEN years from now, it’s very possible for Baghdad to turn into a city of slums. This will be the case as long as no one in the state wants to act or do anything to end these frequent violations. According to a report published on Sunday by Al-Mada newspaper, the number of people who live in slums in Baghdad is currently over 2.6 million. The number is most probably much bigger as the data provided by Al-Mada is just an estimate and it’s not based on accurate statistics.
If we assume that the number is around 3 million, then in around 10 years, the number will increase by a million; the newborns of the people who currently live in the slums.
Iraq’s annual percentage growth rate is 3% and it’s one of the highest rates in the world. It’s also probable that another 1 million who arrived from other provinces will live in these slums. Nothing can prevent violations, even in the heart of the capital.
There’s no hope that they may even do anything to address this phenomenon’s security threats. Slums usually form a friendly environment for terrorism and organized crime
Slums and terrorism: In all cases, one cannot hope that Baghdad’s municipality or Baghdad’s province or that Baghdad’s operations command and other security apparatuses will work to confront this dangerous phenomenon. There’s no hope that they may even do anything to address this phenomenon’s security threats. Slums usually form a friendly environment for terrorism and organized crime.
Many slums in Baghdad and other cities are in fact protected by influential political parties or by armed groups. This makes it difficult for relevant apparatuses to prevent the growth of slums which do not only violate property but also violate public services through the illegal use of power, water and sanitation.
It’s true that the serious housing crisis in the country is a major reason behind the expansion of slums and violations of public and private property. However the state’s absence is also another major reason. The state operates according to the law and there are apparatuses and institutions to impose this law. Law violations: However, there’s a clear absence of law in the country! For example, no one abides by traffic regulations in the street. Taking a look at streets tells a lot about the state and tests its prestige. The driver who violates traffic laws and the shop owner who occupies the space in front of his shop to sell his merchandise will not hesitate to violate other laws and ignore the state.
In that Al-Mada report, a member of Baghdad’s council said “there is coordination with the government to launch a national campaign to eliminate slums and have the federal government compensate the people who live there and build residential units for them.”
We will continue to hear about this campaign for the next ten years and no results will be achieved. We will eventually realize that we need a national campaign to make this government impose the state’s prestige and rule of law.
[Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein].