Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perspective: Iraqis eke out living in Baghdad rubbish dump

BAGHDAD, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Sitting amid mounds of rotting garbage in a rubbish dump in Baghdad, 13-year-old Huda Hamdan is the human face of a new U.N. report that says a third of war- torn Iraq's 26 million people live in poverty.

The teenager, wearing a black veil, is taking a break from scavenging for aluminium cans and glass bottles that she sells for a few Iraqi dinars. She tries not to gag from the stench of the decomposing household refuse surrounding her.

She and her six brothers and sisters compete with scores of other diggers, many children and women, made homeless by sectarian violence that has forced them to flee their homes and seek refuge in the sprawling Shi'ite slum of Sadr City.

Scores of displaced Shi'ite families have made the rubbish dump their home -- living in unsanitary conditions in tents, crude shacks made from oil cans or squatting in an empty building -- and trying to eke out the barest of livings.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet