This Week in Restoring Family Links: 07/04/2016 - 07/08/2016

People search for their relatives at the Karada site hit by the bomb attack. Photo Credit: Ahmed Saad - Reuters.

People search for their relatives at the Karada site hit by the bomb attack. Photo Credit: Ahmed Saad - Reuters.

Iraq: On July 3rd, in central Baghdad, Iraq, at least 250 people lost their lives and at least 175 were wounded due to a massive suicide bombing – the deadliest one in the country since 2003. The bomb detonated in Karada. As a result, the interior minister Mohammed al-Ghabban offered to resign, and a group of protestors matched from Karada to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s house to express their anger over the failures of the security forces – which are under army, federal, and local police. Ghabban claimed that the lack of unity of these forces have led to the fact that explosive materials got passed the security checkpoints and entered crowded civilian areas.  

The suicide bombing, claimed responsible by the Islamic State, is the latest in a string of violence happened during Ramadan, which coincides with the time period when ISIS attacks those they regard as enemies. Many considered this attack a sign of the Sunny-Shiite tension as ISIS is dominated by Sunni while Karada is a prominent Shiite neighborhood. Some analysts also see that this as a sign of ISIS increasing its insurgent tactics since the group has suffered territorial losses in Iraq, especially after their losses in Falluja, Ramadi, Tikrit, and Baiji.

On July 4th, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that the suffering in Syria and in Iraq have reached an “unprecedented level,” and asked individuals with power over the conflict to “show vision and courage and a respect for the fundamental value of human dignity.” So far, ICRC has provided food, drinking water, and medical services to more than a million of people in Iraq. In 2015, ICRC has spent nearly $110,000 in Iraq to aid those in needs.

Click here to see an aerial video showing Ramadi, a city in Iraq, released by ICRC.

West Virginia: 

Over the weeks, West Virginia suffered the deadliest flood since May 2010, resulting in at least 23 deaths. The flood destroyed more than 1,200 homes and businesses. President Obama has declared West Virginia a disaster area and has made extended funding available in three hard-hit counties: Kanawha, Greenbier, and Nicholas. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin also called in 300 National Guards to help eight counties, with a possibility of calling in 200 more. Searches for missing individuals are still being conducted.

The American Red Cross has sent over thousands of aid workers to West Virginia to help those in needs, and clean the debris from the flood. The Red Cross is currently monitoring the situation to ensure that their help reaches victims of the flood. Below here is how you can help:

HOW TO HELP Those who would like to help people affected by disasters like flooding and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

FLOOD SAFETY STEPS The Red Cross has steps people should follow to remain safe if they are in an area where flooding may occur:

1. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.

2. Stay away from floodwaters.

3. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

4. Keep children out of the water.

5. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.”