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Iraq: Update from Baghdad

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  • ummyakoub
    Friends- Our team in Baghdad just called. It is difficult for us to convey the obvious relief that we experienced upon hearing from them. The phone
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 10, 2003
      Friends-


      Our team in Baghdad just called. It is difficult for us to convey the
      obvious relief that we experienced upon hearing from them. The phone
      disconnected three times giving us less than 10 minutes to communicate
      with them. They told us U.S. soldiers and tanks are on streets and
      street corners, they seem to be everywhere. Further, they expressed
      with great emphasis that an excessive amount of bombs have rained down
      on Baghdad for the last week.

      Today as we watch on television the countless hours of reporting on
      the tangible and symbolic destruction of a Saddam Hussein statue, the
      number of injured civilians, families losing loved ones, lootings,
      fires, and fighting increases. Meanwhile our team in Amman attended a
      press briefing where they heard statements from United Nations
      humanitarian coordinators. These statements have gone unmentioned in
      the mainstream media.

      Carel de Rooy director of UNICEF in Iraq stated, "Before this conflict
      took place UNICEF had networks and systems in Iraq that helped achieve
      our life-saving vaccination campaigns, nutrition campaigns, and work
      in education. What is horribly worrying about the looting, chaos, and
      break down of order, is that those systems we counted on may
      completely collapse," he added that at the beginning of this week, the
      UNICEF Iraq appeal has received just 1/5th of its funding. "This is
      obviously and simply not enough. We have an emergency on our hands.
      Our actions in the next few weeks will determine the physical and
      mental well-being of a generation of Iraqi children."

      A representative from the World Health Organization, speaking to the
      increasing humanitarian crisis added, "Reports from Baghdad tell of
      serious civilian casualties and growing pressure on hospitals and
      health workers. Electricity supplies are erratic, the standby
      generators are being overworked to the point of collapse; many
      hospitals are running short of clean, safe water, staff are working
      extremely long hours in unimaginable circumstances and some vital
      surgical and medical supplies are running short...in a hospital with a
      basic infrastructure not functioning, and where doctors and nurses
      have to perform difficult emergency surgical operations and provide
      intensive care without access to some of the most basic services and
      supplies."

      Months prior to the "shock and awe" onslaught, UN officials, as well
      as delegates with the Iraq Peace Team, had warned and protested
      against the use of such violence due to the realities Iraqis are faced
      with today, the realities as outlined in the statements above. Adding
      greater concern to an already desperate situation, UNHCI commented on
      the inability for UN agencies to enter Iraq at the current time,
      because of the lack of safety on the roads and access to warehouses
      and offices.

      As our team in Baghdad continues to bear witness, we ask all of you to
      continue to do the work that has just begun. The urgency for water
      and relief that is felt by many civilians throughout Iraq is one that
      must be heard and echoed throughout the world until their needs are
      met. In the most recent diary from our team in Iraq, Cynthia Banas
      wrote, "Death, destruction, maiming, and lifetime trauma are the
      consequences of war. We have witnessed children frightened beyond
      their years, and have seen their mangled bodies in the hospital. War
      for them will never end."

      Thank you for your work. Thank you for caring.

      Bitta Mostofi, for Voices in the Wilderness

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