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News From Baghdad

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  • ummyakoub
    From: Voices in the Wilderness Dear Friends, April 17, 2003 First, an apology for the typo in our most recent update. The $1.1 should have read $1.1 billion:
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 18, 2003
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      From: Voices in the Wilderness

      Dear Friends,
      17, 2003

      First, an apology for the typo in our most recent update. The $1.1
      should have read $1.1 billion: the amount our government is
      squandering daily to fund its illegal war on Iraq. In the time since
      I began typing this message, a www.costofwar.com reports that over
      $41,265,540,319 plus, have gone to pay for the war: that money could
      have paid for at least 1,046,706 four-year scholarships to public
      universities. We can only reflect on the words of Martin Luther King
      Jr.: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on
      military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching
      spiritual death."

      News from Baghdad: we learned just a few hours ago that following a
      meeting between IPT members and representatives of the US Military's
      Civil Operations Center (CMOC), all Voices in the Wilderness members
      are banned from the Palestine Hotel, home not only to CMOC but also
      the international press corps. (See
      http://electroniciraq.net/news/677.shtml for
      that story). Following is the report of the meeting between Iraq
      Peace Team members and representatives of the CMOC:

      Heavy-handed & Hopeless, The U.S. Military Doesn't Know
      What It's Doing In Iraq
      Ramzi Kysia, Iraq Peace Team

      16 April 2003

      Voices in the Wilderness representatives met today with the U.S.
      Military's Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) in their
      headquarters at the Palestine Hotel to discuss the emergency,
      humanitarian crisis facing Baghdad. Trash removal has not occurred
      for a month. Electricity, Sanitation and Communications were all
      seriously damaged during the U.S. war, and have yet to be restored in
      Baghdad. Cholera outbreaks have been reported in Basra, and rumored
      to have been found in the central Iraqi city of Hilla. Some of the
      local clinics are up and running, but medications for conditions
      such as hypertension and diabetes are no longer available. Quality
      control equipment and systems are also unavailable, and the lack of
      quality control could lead to serious problems in treatment, as well
      as creating the potential for epidemics due to contaminated blood

      The previous distribution system set up under the "Oil-for-Food"
      program is in total collapse, and - unless essential services are
      immediately restored - Iraq faces a humanitarian catastrophe.

      Prior to the war, the Pentagon set up Humanitarian Operations
      Coordination Centers (the HOC in Qatar and Kuwait, and the HAC in
      Jordan), as well as disaster assistance response teams (DART), to
      coordinate relief efforts between the U.S. military and United
      Nations and non-governmental organizations. Not only are HOC, HAC,
      and DART personnel not in Baghdad yet, CMOC was not even aware of the
      existence of these other military-humanitarian coordinating bodies.

      CMOC reported that they did not yet have a plan for how to restore
      essential services in Baghdad, but are working on creating such a
      plan today. However, that information will not be publicly available
      for review, and will only be shared with organizations that agree to
      work with the U.S. military in Baghdad - cutting out any humanitarian
      agency that insists on maintaining neutrality.

      CMOC also reported that they spent several days locating hospitals,
      power plants, and water & sanitation plants in order to do needs
      assessments. Apparently no one in the U.S. military thought to ask
      the United Nations, or other international organizations working in
      Iraq, for any of this information prior to, or even after, the fall
      of Baghdad. The World Health Organization and the Red Cross have been
      working in Iraq for years. The United Nations Development program has
      been working to assist Iraq in restoring electricity since 1996.
      Locations and assessments of civilian infrastructures are not secret
      information - except in the Pentagon's world. Why didn't anyone ask
      for this information? Why wasn't a plan for rehabilitation developed
      prior to the war?

      When told that of rumors of a cholera outbreak in Hilla, CMOC even
      asked Voices in the Wilderness where that neighborhood was located in
      Baghdad - unaware that Hilla is a major Iraqi city located
      approximately 1 hour south of Baghdad!

      The biggest problem CMOC reported is the lack of local workers needed
      to get civilian systems up and running. However, CMOC seemed unaware
      that the mostly unmanned roadblocks put up throughout the city are
      making it difficult for anyone to get to work, as is the lack of a
      coordinating body responsible for organizing these efforts.

      coordinating body, not associated with any military organization,
      needs to be created to direct humanitarian assessment and relief
      efforts by all of the agencies working, or seeking to work, in Iraq.
      Previously, this was the corrupt, but functional, Iraqi Red Crescent

      - Senior-level administrators at hospitals and other civilian centers
      fled with the collapse of the previous regime. This has led to
      chaotic conditions where lower-level staff are unsure who, if anyone,
      has the authority to make urgent decisions. This "power vacuum" must
      be immediately filled by creating new, decision-making-structures,
      not corrupted by the previous regime.

      - The U.S. military has demonstrated that it is neither prepared, nor
      interested in becoming prepared, to deal with the humanitarian crisis
      caused by their war. The international community must exert itself,
      and return UN control to dealing with this crisis, until Iraqis can
      form a government of their own to deal with the problems created by
      12 years of sanctions and war.

      Time is short.

      Voices asks you to consider the following actions:

      + Make phone calls and send faxes and emails to members of both the
      Senate Committee on Armed Services
      (See http:/armed-services.senate.gov/ for listing of members and
      their contact information) and House Armed Services Committee
      (www.house.gov/hasc/) to demand that US occupying forces allow UN
      organizations and other NGO's to perform the work they--not soldiers
      bearing massive armaments--are commissioned to do and were doing
      these last 13 years.

      + Send the same message to your Senator, Congress people, the White
      House and the Pentagon. Demand meetings with any of the above, to
      insure your message is heard.

      We'll be sending more news in the coming days. Thank you all for your
      continued support--in all of its forms. There is so much important
      and difficult work ahead of us. May we continue to find renewed
      energy and creativity with which to carry it out.

      In peace and with hope,

      Stephanie Schaudel
      Voices in the Wilderness Chicago



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