For My First Post, As Way of Introduction…

I would like to turn over the first post of my blog to Ross Caputi of the Justice for Fallujah Project…please, please watch both of these videos to gain some background on and knowledge of the situation facing the families and children of Fallujah, from someone who can speak the truth from personal experience, and say it so, so much more eloquently than I ever could:

This is a story that needs to be told. We need to witness and we need to scream it across this entire country, and the world.

I will post whatever updates and any news items about Fallujah and the babies that I can find on this blog, and hope to compile a history of what already has been done.  The focus of this blog will be what is now being done, and what still needs to be done.  I ask my friends to spread the word…write to your newspapers, or congressmen…whatever you can do.  Subscribe to this blog, like  the Justice for Fallujah Project on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Remember-Fallujah-Project/148687775148374 , tweet and re-tweet posts. Write in with ideas, all efforts to help are welcomed and appreciated…and needed.  Please, and

Thanks

What About the Babies?

It’s been a while since I posted in my blog.  Fallujah was in the news in June, with the battle to “re-take” the city.  My fundraiser for the refugees fleeing the city raised over $700. I thank the Norwegian Refugee Council for being there,  for offering aid. I hope that my meager effort helped a few families find shelter.

But as always in this media-driven world we live in, news headlines faded. Summer came and I retreated to my personal life. I got married and traveled and focused on my job and my life. But, as always, Fallujah remained somewhere in the back of my mind. What is happening there, I wondered. Where are the families?

I was out of the country when this piece appeared on PBS.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/fallujah-isis-gone-everything-else/

I’m not sure about the framing of the piece…things in the mainstream media often spin reality, especially the complicated political world in the middle east. But politics aside, the voices speak for themselves. A city ruined…a people lost. What about the babies? Where are they? I started this blog because I was outraged that my country wasn’t accepting responsibility for causing birth defects in innocent children. And now, I feel even more hopeless, and sad. I can only hope that somehow the people of Fallujah survive the unspeakable horrors that have been put upon them.  All I can do is offer my…I don’t know what to say. What can I offer? My hope? I’m not sure I have any left.  There is no easy answer. I pray for the babies…

 

Fallujah refugee crisis the worst in UN history

fallujah dire crisis

This article….what can one say?! Apocalyptic” conditions…

Fallujah refugee crisis the worst in UN history

Tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the Battle of Fallujah are enduring “apocalyptic” conditions, aid agencies said yesterday as the UN announced it was facing the worst refugee ­crisis in its history.

Many are staying in squalid desert camps around the fringes of the Iraqi city, where there is a desperate shortage of food, water and sanitation. Families are being forced to sleep in the open owing to the lack of tents.

A man who gave his name as Azeez told aid workers he and his family had fled Fallujah in only the clothes they were wearing. “Until now we’re sleeping on the ground, in the dust. There are no tents, no mattresses, no toilets,” he said, speaking from the Amariyat Al Fallujah camp, where 2000 people are living. “There are two (toilets) designated for an entire camp. Women stand in line to enter the toilet from morning until noon.”

Nasr Muflahi, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s director in Iraq, said: “The conditions we are seeing in the camps are miserable, the scenes apocalyptic. We need the Iraqi government to work with the UN to step in and actually manage these camps so aid can be provided efficiently. And we need food, water, medicines and other essential aid to get in urgently.”

Karl Schembri, an aid worker with the Norwegian Refugee Council, described one camp he had just visited. “Believe me, it is a nightmare, hell on earth,” he said. “Screams, shouting, dust, heat, a woman collapsing with exhaustion; an elderly woman taking her last breaths surrounded by her family; children with nowhere to go; so many without tents or shelter; many for five days now. It is 48 ­degrees.”

According to the UN more than 84,000 people have fled fighting between Islamic State and the Iraqi army in Fallujah, which is 55km from Baghdad. The number has doubled in the past four days as many of those trapped by violence were able to escape after a decisive advance by government troops.

The Fallujah exodus comes as the UN’s refugee agency reported that wars in Syria and Iraq had pushed the total number of people driven from their homes worldwide at the end of last year to 65.3 million — the worst refugee crisis in UN history.

It is the first time that the number of refugees worldwide has passed 60 million since the UN was founded in 1945. The figure is greater than the population of Britain.

The UN report, released to coincide with World Refugee Day, estimated that 24 people a minute were forced from their homes last year — 34,000 people a day. Global displacement had doubled since 1997 and risen by 50 per cent since 2011.

“I hope that the message carried by those forcibly displaced reaches the leaderships: we need action, political action, to stop conflicts,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “The message that they have carried is: ‘if you don’t solve problems, problems will come to you’.”

More than half the total number of refugees came from three war-torn countries: Syria, ­Afghanistan and Somalia. More than a million refugees arrived in Europe last year but the UN said 86 per cent of the burden worldwide was being borne by low or middle-income countries close to scenes of conflict.

A UN-led appeal aims for $US4.55 billion ($6.1bn) in funding to cope with the Syrian refugee crisis this year but by April less than a quarter of that had been achieved.

Aid agencies reported that those fleeing Fallujah were already weakened by malnutrition after a long siege and many had been surviving for weeks or months on Euphrates river water and rotting dates used for animal feed.

“On a scale of one to 10 this is somewhere around eight, nine, 10,” said Ralph El Hage, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad.

An organization that I really respect has started raising funds for the refugees, please click here for more information on how to help:

And you can also give to my fundraiser for the Norwegian Refugee Council:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

Fallujah’s displaced endure ‘inhuman’ conditions

fallujah

Thousands of families who continue to flee Fallujah face a ‘catastrophic’ situation, aid workers say.

That was the headline from an article in Al Jazeera.  And there’s this from UPI:

BAGHDAD, June 22 (UPI) — Families in Iraq who fled fighting in Fallujah are now living in dangerous conditions, with some sleeping in the open desert as food, water and supplies run low.

More than 85,000 people have escaped Fallujah in recent weeks as Iraqi security forces battled to seize control of Iraq’s second-largest city away from the Islamic State. The surge in internally displaced people seeking aid in camps near Fallujah have further strained the supplies of humanitarian agencies.

“Women are sleeping on the bare ground here … My family has been here for five days and we have no water, only one blanket shared by seven people,” Saleh, an Iraqi man from Fallujah, told the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Only today they filled the water tank … why is this happening to us? Let the United Nations help us and come and see how much we are suffering, let them see what we’re going through.”

The surge in fleeing families is attributed to IS militants retreating from checkpoints in the city. The militants killed or captured civilians who attempted to flee Fallujah.

Humanitarian agencies warn temperatures nearing 120 degrees Fahrenheit have threatened the lives of children, pregnant woman, the elderly and disabled people.

Iraqi officials said at least 2,500 Islamic State militants have been killed in the past month since Iraqi security forces began the offensive. At least 4.4 million people in Iraq are internally displaced.

“What we’re seeing is the consequence of a delayed and heavily underfunded response with an extreme toll on the civilians fleeing from one nightmare and living through another one,” Norwegian Refugee Council Director Nasr Muflahi said in a statement. “The situation is deteriorating by the day and people are going to die in those camps unless essential aid arrives now. Fallujah may have been retaken but its citizens are facing a catastrophe.

Catastrophe…
Humanitarian Disaster…
Nightmare…
Inhuman…

How can we stand by and let this happen?  Please click the link below to help!!:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

The Families of Fallujah Need Help NOW

families fallujah

A “new nightmare” read one headline of an article about the growing humanitarian crisis in Fallujah. Aid workers are increasingly frustrated, and rightly so:

Nasr Muflahi, the director of the NRC’s mission in Iraq, said: “What we’re seeing is the consequence of a delayed and heavily underfunded response with an extreme toll on the civilians fleeing from one nightmare and living through another one.

“The situation is deteriorating by the day and people are going to die in those camps unless essential aid arrives now. Fallujah may have been retaken but its citizens are facing a catastrophe.

“The governments engaged in this battle have the responsibility to provide the funding and the resources needed for the tens of thousands of innocent women, children and men displaced and left out on their own.”

Please donate to the Norwegian Refugee Council through my fundraiser. Click here:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

Please…

 

Civilians Fleeing Fallujah Overwhelming Aid Agencies

HELP THE FAMILIES OF FALLUJAH, CLICK THIS LINK:
http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

fallujah refugee camp

I searched Google this morning, as I try to do every day, to check on the latest news form Fallujah.  I read several articles that included statements by the Iraqi government that ISIS, or Daesh, had retreated and that the Iraqi army was in control of 70% of the city:

This passage from this article  caught my eye:
Recent army advances have allowed large numbers of civilians to escape, overwhelming aid agencies.

“Thousands of civilians from Fallujah are right now heading towards displacement camps in a dramatic development that is overwhelming emergency aid provision and services,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council, which is running camps for the displaced near Fallujah.

Though the bulk of ISIS’ leadership and fighters may have fled the city, the escape route is still dangerous for civilians with many being killed or wounded by roadside bombs.

and there was this from the CBC:

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which has been providing aid to displaced people, said escapees reported a sudden retreat of IS fighters at key checkpoints inside Fallujah that had allowed civilians to leave.

Humanitarian needs were expected to increase dramatically in the coming hours, swamping the resources of foreign aid groups and the government as they struggle with funding shortfalls.

“Aid services in the camps were already overstretched and this development will push us all to the limit,” said NRC country director Nasr Muflahi.

It is good news that more and more families and children are no longer trapped inside the city with no food and dirty water.  But now they need our help. All of us, all over the world, can help by donating to the Norwegian Refugee Council. The people of Fallujah have been though so much…so much war and destruction…the least we can do, especially those of us who live in the US and other rich countries in the west, is to give what we can. And I hope that the people of Fallujah will know peace some day…

Click here to donate:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

Again and Again, A Humanitarian Disaster

families fleeing fallujah

I am sharing this article with great sadness.  More needs to be done to help these families, PLEASE consider donating to my fundraiser for the Norwegian Refugee Council:
http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

Fallujah residents facing ‘humanitarian disaster’

Thousands of Iraqis trapped in Islamic State group-held Fallujah are facing a “humanitarian disaster” as they dodge gunfire and approach starvation, a prominent Norwegian NGO said on Thursday.

But civilians who have managed to escape the wrath of IS also face deteriorating conditions, with little help being offered to the tens of thousands in refugee camps outside the city.

“We have a humanitarian disaster inside Fallujah and another unfolding disaster in the camps,” the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement.

“Thousands fleeing the cross-fire after months of besiegement and near starvation deserve relief and care, but our relief supplies will soon be exhausted,” NRC chief Jan Egeland said.

As the situation worsens, US-backed Iraqi forces continue to battle the Islamic State group which has held the city in its grip since January 2014.

However, progress has been slow due to IS’ systematic use of civilians as human shields.

“Make no mistake: There is absolutely nothing safe for civilians fleeing Fallujah. No safe exits, no safe passage, no safe-haven without risking their lives,” Egeland said.

“They risk being shot at, killed by explosive devices on the roads, or drowning while crossing the river.”

On Monday, the UN revealed an estimated 7,000 civilians from the war-torn city escaped the intense fighting through a safe passage established by the Iraqi army.

The mass migration out of Fallujah exerted pressure on eight UN camps erected outside of the city, with reports suggesting shelters were now full and “overwhelmed”.

An estimated 24,000 have fled IS-held areas since a wide-ranging offensive was launched to battle the militant group in May – but refugee organisations insist at least 50,000 still remain within the city limits.

Iraqi forces launched a broad offensive to retake Fallujah last month – one of the two major cities still under IS-control – following victories in other parts of the country.

Families Fleeing Fallujah Face More Hardship

There have been many reports about the civilians trying to flee the fighting in Fallujah. I have read of families drowning as they try to leave the city on makeshift rafts, I have read that now there may be 90,000 civilians trapped inside the city as opposed to the 50,000 originally thought to be there.And I have read that civilians who have managed to escape have been subjected to abuse from the very people who are supposedly there to save them. (This piece from Human Rights Watch outlines the abuses that have been reported).

families fleeing on river in Fallujah

When I started this blog I was outraged by the lack of knowledge about the increase in birth defects and cancers that had occurred after the US invasion. I wanted to bring awareness, and through that awareness some funding to help the families that were coping with the burdens that go along with raising a child with special needs. I also wanted the US to take some responsibility.

Now, these very families are fleeing for their lives, many still trapped inside the city with no food, dirty water, no way out. Others have died trying to escape, or have been beaten. ENOUGH, enough of the suffering!!   I can only hope that their nightmare ends soon, and all I can do is to try to raise funds so that the aid workers at the Norwegian Refugee Council can at least provide food, clean water and shelter. Please click the link below and consider giving what you can:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533