And more babies

Another update from the Birth Defects in Fallujah Facebook page.  Look at this precious baby’s hands and feet.

And this beatiful boy’s legs

So many children born in Fallujah in July of this year with birth defects, and that’s just one month. This is not right. The US needs to take responsibilty for this.  Our weapons did this. It’s just not right.

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More Babies in Fallujah

I encourage anyone reading this blog to follow Fallujah Birth Defects on twitter – @FDefects. I am posting some of their recent pictures below. That all of these babies were born in Fallujah in just the past few weeks just doesn’t seem right. How many more babies have to suffer?  I am sickened and saddened that I live in a country that caused this and won’t take any responsibility for it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But I am sorry. All I can do is help them to show the world. We can all do that…

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Remember the Babies

I am posting these pictures and description from the Birth Defects in Fallujah Facebook page. There are no words to describe this.  I am so saddened to think that the US will never take responsibility for causing this. At least not any time soon…

Microcephaly and multiple skeletal anomalies, born in Fallujah maternity and children hospital , the family live in Fallujah and have no previous history of such or any other anomaly

A Project to Rebuild Fallujah’s Hospitals

fallujah-hospital
https://www.gofundme.com/rebuilding-fallujahs-hospital

Since I started this blog several years ago I have searched for ways to directly support and help the people of Fallujah, the families with babies,  children, suffering from horrendous birth defects caused by weapons used by the US and allies. As I write in the introduction, through my initial research I encountered an ex-Marine named Ross Caputi, a veteran of the Iraq war who fought in Fallujah and who is featured in the video that is pinned to the beginning of this blog. He helped co-found the Justice for Fallujah and ISLAH Reparations projects that you may have read about on this blog.

I am always humbled by his commitment to trying to do something to help the people of Fallujah.I know that I shared his frustration as we all watched the city sustain devastation and continued destruction over the past few years. I lost track of what happened to those babies. The people fled, became refugees, and those who have returned have returned to rubble.

I haven’t written in this blog for a while. I feel bad, but I don’t know what to say. I wanted so badly to help those babies and hopefully have made some small bit of difference here and there…raised a little bit of awareness, maybe. But mainly there has been little to say because I didn’t know what to do.

Now there is something to do. I received this email from Ross:

Dear Friends,

I’ve been awarded a $5000 grant from Veterans for Peace to begin reparations efforts with the Fallujah General Hospital and build a veteran-led reparations campaign for Iraq! But I need to match the grant by 10%. Please help us raise $500 to kick these efforts off.

Visit our Go Fund Me campaign to contribute.

This is the situation. I’m a veteran of the second US-led siege of Fallujah in 2004, so I feel a huge moral debt to this city. The Fallujah General Hospital is currently in ruins from the last three years of Coalition military operations (including US air strikes) to push the Islamic State out of the city. And since the ground assault that finally cleared the Islamic State from Fallujah this past June, all the medical equipment has been looted. What’s worse, the Iraqi government has made no promises to rebuild the hospital or restock it with equipment. Out of desperation, the hospital staff has put a call out to international solidarity organizations for assistance.

Over the last few years, I’ve been working with the Islah Reparations Project to bring grassroots reparations to Fallujah’s hospitals. Through this work, we’ve developed a strong relationship with hospital staff members, and they’ve asked us to play a big role in this initiative.

The task before us is potentially enormous. It will likely require significant logistical efforts, lobbying, fundraising, media work, and community building. Fortunately, we have a small dedicated group of organizers to help kick this effort off. And with your help, we can build this effort into a sustainable solidarity and reparations movement.

If we can raise $500, the Veterans for Peace Howard Zinn Fund will be providing a $5000 grant to kick these efforts off. We have websites to build, committees to organize (for a number of different projects), a trip to Fallujah to plan, and a book to publish, tentatively titled The Sacking of Fallujah: a people’s history. But what we’re most excited about is the formation of a Veteran Reparations Project to lead these efforts.

All of this requires operating funds and many hands to share the labor burden. If you can, please contribute to these efforts. Whatever you can offer—funds, labor, or social media support—would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Ross Caputi
Board Member of the Islah Reparations Project
Iraq veteran and graduate student

The good news is that he met the goal for the matching funds! But as you can imagine, there is so much more needed. Please, please please…anyone reading my blog, and my friends and others who know how this issue has always been one that is so so important to me, please do what you can to help Ross help the Fallujah General Hospital. Those doctors are heroes. They deserve our support. For the babies.

From FGH

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