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US combat operations may be concluding on Tuesday, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis face ongoing hardships.
The United Nations refugee agency says the Iraq War produced the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since 1948, when half the Arab population of Palestine fled their homes after the creation of Israel.
Kareem Hassan Abboud's family of seven share this two-room house at a makeshift squatter camp in a mainly Shi'ite district in northwestern Baghdad.
The 59-year-old fisherman and his family were forced to move there four years ago after fleeing sectarian violence.
Kareem Hassan Abboud, Fisherman, said, "We are waiting for a good leader to govern us and to look after the helpless people, not to leave us alone in a difficult situation. It's not just me. There are a lot of families that are living in a bad conditions".
He said they fear the reduction in US troops and their full withdrawal next year will re-ignite sectarian bloodshed.
Aid workers also share the concern. The United Nations refugee agency fears that Iraq's humanitarian crisis will be forgotten as attention shifts elsewhere.
Daniel Endres, Spokesman, UN Refugee Agency, said, "It's very important that post-conflict or transition countries, because part of it is still conflict, receive sufficient support for a certain period, because statistics show that the majority of post-conflict situations punch back into conflict within seven years. And very often you can trace it back to a lack of attention or no sustained support in these critical post-conflict years."
Iraq was previously the world's third-largest oil supplier. Before the 2003 US-led war, 60 percent of the country's 27 million people lived on the UN's Oil for Food program. But now, the situation is far worse. Analysts say it will take decades to rebuild the country.
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