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