"Trade is good! It's going well," Safea Ali, a 36-year-old luggage seller, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
His shop is packed with gleaming new arrivals; suitcases, travel bags, all kinds of trunks.
Sales are booming, and new deliveries regularly restock his shelves as one family after another packs its bags to flee.
"People always need suitcases. They go on holiday when things are good. They leave when things go bad. They travel to visit their families and they store things at home. What model are you after?" he asks impishly.
Splashes of color in a city of dusty concrete and barbed wire, heavy duty luggage spills out from shops and on to pavement displays in the central Baghdad districts of Rusafa and Karrada.
According to the UN, two million Iraqis have fled the country outright and 1.8 million more have been displaced within its borders, escaping a bloody Sunni-Shiite conflict that claims the lives of at least 100 people a day.
Every month 50,000 more Iraqis leave for foreign lands in what has become the biggest exodus in the Middle East since the Palestinian exodus in 1948.
More than 600,000 Iraqis and perhaps as many as a million are now in Syria, some 750,000 are in Jordan and at least 120,000 in Egypt.
Country of Dead
Fadel Abbas gave up his job as a photographer to get a slice of the burgeoning travel bag market.
"Often those who buy a case have never traveled before, they don't have a lot of bags. Some have never flown in plane before the one they board to get out of here," says 64-year-old luggage merchant Abbas.
"People tell me they're leaving. Most are leaving the country, but others are just moving from one district to another," adds Abbas.
US and Iraqi military officials warned on Saturday, March 17, that violence is rising in areas outside Baghdad following a massive security crackdown in the capital, where 90,000 US and Iraqi troops are deployed to rein in the sectarian bloodshed.
Bombers detonated three trucks carrying toxic gas, two in south Fallujah and one northeast of Ramadi, killing at least two police and leaving 350 civilians and six multi-national soldiers needing treatment, the US military said Saturday.
"Violence and terrorism make it impossible to live here. Iraq is a becoming a country of the dead," sighs Abbas.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16