IRAQ UPDATE: April 29, 2003

in:

CPTnet
April 29, 2003
IRAQ UPDATE: April 29, 2003

Lisa Martens said the team spent further time today on the munitions dump
under a bridge in the Mansour neighbourhood. They noted that another box of
weaponry has disappeared from the site. There are still no soldiers or signs
or tape marking off the area. When she went to find U.S. Army Capt.
Payne to complain, she was referred to Lt. Wheeler, a Methodist from
Florida.

Wheeler said, "We don't have enough resources. It is not really our job.
Talk to the Red Cross or find a private contractor. But we have cleaned up
ten such sites. Iraq is now in the top five countries in the world with
unexploded ordnance, right up there with Bosnia and Afghanistan. It will
take 5 years to clean up all the sites here." The team then prayed with
Wheeler for the families of recent Iraqi victims and of U.S. Marines who
were also killed by unexploded ordnance.

The team visited Dr Ahmed at the Warmash Children's Hospital. He had twenty
patients injured by ordnance including cluster bombs. The children had
burns or amputations or were dead. He said the US army had distributed some
pamphlets warning of the dangers but had not cleaned up the unexploded
weaponry.

Team members also joined the U.S. Army / Non Governmental Organization (NGO)
daily meeting. The New York Times had reported that the U.S. government had
given a contract to a US firm to improve Iraqi curriculum but the Army Major
in charge of this meeting said Iraqis will do the job. The Army is currently
assessing the location and readiness of school buildings to reopen. UNICEF
has much of this
information already but the U.N. is not involved in relief work yet. The
reasons are not clear. When asked about the unexploded ordnance problem, the
Major said CPT should write him a report.

A Chaldean Christian from Kaldia came to visit the team saying Christians
are oppressed there. This was the same town visited yesterday by the Levins
who were led to believe it was a very peaceful town. A Muslim visitor
arrived at the apartment and engaged the Christian in a spirited discussion
about the future for religious tolerance.

Street protests today focussed on U.S. requirements for anyone wanting a job
in the relief efforts to fill out an application. But people are unsure who,
if anyone, will look at such applications. Other protestors at the
Republican Palace called for the release of Zubaidi, the self-proclaimed
"mayor" of Baghdad. The team's impression is that U.S. soldiers are
over-extended and have been given little information beyond what their
platoon has orders to do.