Posted by Sadie from ? (188.8.131.52) on Thursday, April 10, 2003 at 4:59PM :
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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