I'm not going to post any of the thousands of pictorials on the horrors in Iraq, no pictures of streets awash with blood, or dead babies, ruined homes or the maimed. You have seen them but your senses aren't overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and smells of death all around you. Is it this luxury of being removed from the reality of life in Iraq that keeps us from the full measure of rage it should produce in us.
The pre Shock and Awe population of Iraq is estimated by UN and other relief agencies at about 23 - 24 million. Hard numbers are impossible to get partially because of the Iraqi government and partially because of the years of the embargo which cost the lives of an estimated 500,000 Iraqi women and children each year from malnutrition and inadequate medical treatment.
U.S. forces plan to drop more than 1,500 bombs and missiles across Iraq in the first 24 hours of its "shock and awe" campaign that began Friday, Pentagon officials said.Precision guided missiles, only military and government targets. Dropping 2,000 pound bombs designed to limit collateral damage in urban areas. But the reality is hundreds of homes destroyed in those initial bombings. Massive civilian casualties, hospitals unable to handle the number of injured. The Lancet reported best estimate of 100,000 dead in the early days of the war, many others have placed the estimate as high as 285,000. Thank god we used precision guided bombs targeting ONLY military and government facilities. 2,000 pound bombs designed to limit collateral damage in urban areas in deed.
From May 2003 Providing clean drinking water to Iraq's 23.3 million citizens is the first priority. U.N. sanctions imposed in 1990 meant that Iraq, which derived 95% of its foreign currency from oil, could sell only that commodity in exchange for food. Thus, it could no longer get enough spare parts to keep all of its water-treatment plants working, according to the UNEP.
From June 2007 Four years after the invasion, rebuilding Iraq is still a huge challenge. Making sure that people have clean water is essential but the infrastructure for this is badly lacking: Iraq's pipes, pumps and purifiers are often old, damaged and unreliable. In Basra, the country's second city, the situation is especially serious.
From Nov. 2007 Despite the fact that Iraq and U.S. officials have made water projects among their top priorities, the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war, according to an analysis by Oxfam International last summer. The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation was even worse -- 80 percent.
From the same article A recent outbreak of cholera across Iraq has killed at least 14 people and infected 3,300 others with an intestinal ailment spread by dirty water.Before the invasion of Iraq access to electricity in Baghdad was nearly continuous, in the rest of Iraq the limit was between 3 - 6 hours a day. Now, electricity in some areas of Baghdad are only on for a few hours. Last summer the grid completely failed and the whole country suffered shortages as bad as the summer of 2003. Billions have been spent and there is little to show for it in terms of making life tolerable for Iraqis. The insurgents have been blamed for sabotage on the transmission lines. Last summer only two of the seventeen going into Baghdad were operational. Summer temperatures reach from 110-120 degrees. Lack of gasoline is also a problem, people can't use small home generators and the large generators used to pump sewage are also unusable. They can't use kerosene heaters in the winter either.
Some families with vehicles buy bottled water while in Baghdad. Others wait for the water tanker to deliver free supplies. Bottled water from the U.S. military is too infrequent to be relied upon.
"We go from village to village, when we can," said Capt. Pat Moffett. "We give them water to drink, but we also have to give them water to farm, so they can work."
Villagers confirm the need for full irrigation canals to sprout new crops of watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, wheat and rice, which in many areas haven't been farmed in several seasons.
From a Salon Article May 21, 2008 | BAGHDAD, Iraq -- May 20: Trash pickup in most of Baghdad ended with the rule of Saddam Hussein. Now the garbage chokes the capital's streets and clogs the sewage pipes and canals, which overflow and burst. The sewage that leaks out of broken pipes seeps through the dirt of roads that were once paved, but now have mostly turned to dirt because the tracks of American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles have destroyed the asphalt over five years of war.
From May 2008 Hundreds of houses in Sadr City have been destroyed during the fighting, leaving families more vulnerable than ever in a neighbourhood where basic services have ceased to function. The population remains largely dependent on humanitarian assistance for the provision of water and emergency medical care.Hospitals are short of medical supplies and they are being provided by relief agencies when possible, as are many of the day to day things the average Iraqi family needs like food. Unfortunately the relief efforts are a small drop in a very big bucket that is now Iraq.
From Jan. 2008 If you need a blood transfusion at Baghdad's Al Yarmouk hospital, you can get one-so long as someone's there to donate blood on your behalf. If you need an operation, you can have one of those too-though your only anesthetic might be your friends and family holding you down. One big explosion can dry up the hospital's saline supplies for a week, leaving the next explosion's victims without the necessary treatment. And where triage is within a war zone doctors and ambulance drivers are regularly threatened and harassed.
From USA Today Feb 2008 Weakened Iraqi medical system on verge of collapse Even with the security gains of the past several months across Iraq, it is still dangerous for doctors and their families if they dare step out of heavily guarded hospital compounds.Daily insurgent attacks were 14 in Feb. 2004, 70 in Nov. 2005 and 163 in May of last year. These attacks not only target military but increasingly civilians.
Drugs supplies are so low that Iraqis hospitalized for illnesses as serious as cancer are asked to track down their own medicine.
"When we need medicine, we go directly to private pharmacies," said Ahmed Khalil, the 38-year-old owner of an auto repair shop in Fallujah. "We know we're not going to get any from Fallujah hospital."
And when pharmacy shelves are bare, Iraqis turn to the black market.
Thanks to DU weapons the cancer rate and birth defect rate has increased dramatically. I point you to this excellent diary It Was Done in Your Name by clammyc.
6.5 million Iraqis are still dependent on food rations. Unemployment is estimated at 70%. An estimated 3.4 million Iraqis have fled their country, relief organizations tell us half are children. Another 2.5 million are refugees in Iraq, 2.1 million of them are children, CHILDREN. UNICEF also tells us displaced children are at the greatest risk for death, not just refugee children, but children displaced in their own country. In fact the burden of this war on Iraq's children is staggering. 70 percent have not attended school except sporatically in the last 5 years and some of them haven't been to school at all. Children who are refugees in Jordan or Syria aren't going to school and in many cases their parents can't work. Now stories of prostitution being one of the only means of earning the money necessary to survive. They risk deportation if caught.
Syria and Jordan have taken the greatest number of refugees. These are countries who a simply unable to cope with a million or more refugees. No means to feed them or provide medical care. This is another humanitarian disaster of epic proportions. Virtually every other country accepting Iraqi refugees have taken more than we have taken. Perhaps 4500 since the war began, of course we say there is no limit and of course there is. You read wild numbers we will accept but in fact it was 1608 for 2007 and less than 500 so far this year.
The first to leave were the wealthy Iraqis who got out by plane and automobile. They aren't the ones in the refugee camps. Now and for sometime, the only people left in Iraq who still wish to leave must in most cases walk out. The trip from Baghdad to the Syrian border is roughly 340 miles thru what is largely waste land. They leave with what they can carry, no papers, often not enough money to sustain them. Their dead along the way, sometimes buried but often simply left at the side of the road. How desperate must you be to make that trek, to leave a loved one, a parent or child. Iraqis are still leaving at the rate of 50-60,000 a month from one hell to another hopefully safer hell.
We have held citizens, men mostly but women and children as well. Held them without trial, tortured them, raped them. We have allowed our soldiers and contractors to rape and murder as well. We have allowed genocide.
The estimated civilian death toll now stands at 1,222,000 men, women and children. There are more than 1.5 million seriously injured, maimed, blinded and burned. We have destroyed the Cradle of Civilization, allowed the looting of their Museums, we have reduced Iraq to hell on earth for years to come while we go about literally liberating them to death.
We are the occupying nation and we have responsibilities to the Iraqi people we have ignored. There are Interational Laws governing our conduct and outlining our responsibilities. Since the onset of the war Amnesty International has been calling for the UN to authorize human rights monitors be sent to Iraq. Shoot on sight orders are against International Law and yet we know our soldiers have been given those orders. Desecrating their religious objects is forbidden. Raping their women is forbidden, strip searching them is forbidden. We must protect cultural property. We are not to control their natural resources for our gain.
From Human Rights Watch An occupying force has a duty to ensure the food and medical supplies of the population, as well as maintain hospitals and other medical services, "to the fullest extent of the means available to it." This includes protecting civilian hospitals, medical personnel, and the wounded and sick. Medical personnel, including recognized Red Cross/Red Crescent societies, shall be allowed to carry out their duties. The occupying power shall make special efforts for children orphaned or separated from their families, and facilitate the exchange of family news.These laws have been broken over and over again in Iraq. The Iraqis know it, we know it, the world knows it and now it is time for justice. It is time Bush and his criminal cabinet answer for their indiscretions.
If any part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the occupying power shall facilitate relief by other states and impartial humanitarian agencies. However, the provision of assistance by others does not relieve the occupying force of its responsibilities to meet the needs of the population. The occupying power shall ensure that relief workers are respected and protected.
Today the blood of Iraq is on their hands. Should Bush and Cheney and the rest leave Washington next January and pass into history without ever being held accountable, their crimes pass to us. Their crimes will be our crimes because we allowed this to not only happen but sat by and did nothing to stop it.