By Dahr Jamail
09 December, 2004
is burning with wrath, anger and sadness
the people of Fallujah
are dear to us. They are our brothers and sisters and we are so saddened
by what is happening in that city.
There are no words
better to describe the situation in Iraq, and particularly Fallujah,
than these of Dr. Wamid Omar Nathmi, a senior political scientist at
With over 300,000
homeless residents of Fallujah scattered about central Iraq, daily life
for these refugees is a reality filled with searching for food, medical
attention, warmth and clean water.
Mohammad Ali is
a refugee at a camp on the Baghdad University campus. He was crying
when I interviewed him, his large body shuddering as he lamented his
We did not
feel that there is Eid after Ramadan this year because of our situation
being so bad. All we have is more fasting.
A man with one leg
sitting near the mosque nodding while he smokes his cigarette while
Mohammad continues, I would like to ask the whole world-why is
this? I tell the presidents of the Arab and Muslim countries to wake
up! Wake up please! We are being killed, we are refugees from our houses,
our children have nothing-not even shoes to wear! Wake up! Wake up!
He was weeping even
more when he added, I left Fallujah yesterday and I am handicapped.
I asked God to save us but our house was bombed and I lost everything.
Another man, Khalil,
pointed to several nearby children at the camp and said, Eid is
over. Ramadan is over-and the kids are remaining without even a smile.
They have nothing and nowhere to go. We used to take them to parks to
amuse them, but now we dont even have a house for them.
He continued while
pointing at the children, along with some women nearby, What about
the children? What did they do? What about the women? I cant describe
the situation in Fallujah and the condition of the people-Fallujah is
suffering too much, it is almost gone now.
He then explained,
We got some supplies from the good people of Baghdad, and some
volunteer doctors came on their own with some medicines, but they ran
out daily because conditions are so bad. We saw nothing from the Ministry
of Health-no medicines or doctors or anything.
He said those who
left Fallujah did not think they would be gone so long, so they brought
only their summer clothes. Now it is quite cold at night, down to 5
degrees C at night and windy much of the time. Khalil added, We
need more clothes. Its a disaster we are living in here at this
camp. We are living like dogs and the kids do not have enough clothes.
Its a situation
similar to that in most of the refugee camps Ive seen here.
But there is a small
light amidst this darkness. One international organization in particular,
which shall remain nameless, managed to raise funds to support many
of the refugees of Fallujah.
Speaking on condition
of anonymity, two of the doctors who are receiving financial donations
from the organization have told of their accomplishments to date. Under
their supervision and assistance, small relief groups have worked tirelessly
to distribute the supplies provided with the international donations.
At the aforementioned
camp alone, thanks to donations this group managed to send to Baghdad,
over $500 worth of blankets, sweaters for children, and gas heaters
Over $1,500 worth
of blankets, heaters and portable stoves were distributed to another
four refugee camps in Baghdad as well.
A team of volunteer
Iraqi doctors was quickly organized to purchase needed medications to
treat refugees. The most common problems in the camps are influenza,
pneumonia, colds, diarrhea and other water borne diseases.
Water tanks, pipes,
water pumps, and water purification materials are needed desperately
in most refugee camps. Over $3,000 of donations have been used to supply
a refugee camp in Baghdad with what they need to provide potable water.
Of course, much more is needed.
Now, well over $9,000
of general antibiotics like cipro, tagamet and amoxicillin have been
distributed. Needles, sterile gloves, pain medications, gauze and basic
first aid materials have also been provided to three different refugee
camps and used to treat suffering refugees by small groups of volunteer
have even managed to get trunk loads of medicines and supplements to
camps outside of Baghdad.
A doctor in Amiriyat
al-Fallujah who received much needed medicines and supplies was brimming
The main hospital
there where he works, is struggling to treat 1,500 patients each day.
Before the small city was inundated with refugees, the hospital saw
just 300 patients per day.
of refugee families here, we have not been able to treat the people.
I cant thank you enough for this. These are exactly the supplies
we need, he told the volunteers who brought the medicine, It
is a good start, but of course we can use more, because we are running
out of medicines every day.
In addition to this,
volunteers have plans in the works to make a another delivery there
Over $1,500 was
used to purchase 250 warm blankets and 50 gas heaters for a large refugee
camp near Fallujah.
Another $5,000 has
provided portable kerosene heaters, cooking stoves, and fuel. These
have been distributed mainly at the Al-Amiryah mosque-the main one there
that is next to the bomb shelter memorial-which is where they are distributing
these supplies to refugees staying in that area. These have been critical
with the cold weather now in Baghdad.
Some of the last
refugees to leave their homes are in Husabe, a small city not far from
Fallujah. 234 refugees there who arrived 11 days ago received $2,000
worth of blankets, heaters, food and jackets.
While needs are
assessed, more of this money is being spent in camps where there continues
to be little or no relief from the Ministry of Health. With most NGOs
having left Iraq because of the security situation, this grass-roots
effort has filled some of the huge gaps left in their absence.
been praying for someone to help us here, said Suthir, a mother
of six small children at a refugee camp in the Amiryah district of Baghdad.
And God has taken care of us now. Weve been so cold at night,
but now we finally have a heater.