World Bulletin / News Desk
Osama al-Shami, deputy head of Karbala's Shiite endowments authority, has said that families fleeing Iraq's predominantly-Sunni Anbar province, which has been rocked by violence since last week, would be welcomed in the southeastern Shiite-majority province.
Dozens of displaced families – including many women and children – have flocked to the city of Karbala, where they have been given shelter in the part of the city usually reserved for pilgrims, al-Shami told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
Observers have noted the significance of Karbala's cShiite endowment authority offering shelter to Sunni refugees amid ongoing sectarian tension in Iraq.
Al-Shami, a prominent Shiite scholar, told AA that the initiative was aimed at challenging "those who seek to tear the nation's social fabric" by instigating sectarian strife.
In Karbala, displaced Sunni families have received food, transportation and healthcare services, according to al-Shami, who added that the city was still able to accommodate more families fleeing Anbar.
He went on to express hope that the situation would soon stabilize so that afflicted families might safely return to their homes in Anbar.
Earlier this week, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov said that around 5,000 people had fled the ongoing violence in Anbar to neighboring provinces.
He described the current humanitarian situation in Anbar as "critical," warning that it could deteriorate further if violence continued.
Clashes erupted in the predominantly-Sunni Anbar province last week after troops dispersed a months-old sit-in in provincial capital Ramadi staged by Sunni tribesmen opposed to the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The sit-in dispersal came two days after Sunni lawmaker Ahmed al-Alwani, a prominent anti-Maliki protest organizer, was arrested by Iraqi forces in a raid on his Ramadi home. Six people were killed in the raid, including al-Alwani's brother.
Local tribesmen later expressed their support for local police against Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen who had claimed that they had established control over the province's two main cities, Ramadi and Fallujah.
Local tribal chiefs, however, oppose the presence of army troops in the area and have vowed to fight off any military forces dispatched to the province.Last Mod: 09 Ocak 2014, 16:06