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Two items: new US mission to Iraq, and Iraqi Voices

Two items:
*       Forwarded message from Magdalene Szuszkiewicz, a medical student
from Maryland, who will be travelling to Iraq at the end of this month
with an international mission called Physicians for Social
*       Forwarded message from Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition):
Iraqi Voices (including the personal narrative of an Iraqi living in the

>From:  <>

March 10, 1999

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I am a third year medical student from University of Maryland. March
28-April 8, 1999, I am going to Iraq on a humanitarian mission,
by Physicians for Social Responsibility. This is an international
of physicians, medical students and nurses.  The participants are from
US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  We are going on an invitation
Iraqi Red Cross (Red Crescent).

These are the goals of the mission:

1)  To bring humanitarian aid for the sick and suffering of Iraq,
especially for the pediatric population, affected most severely by
malnutrition and poverty of last 8 years

2)  To bring medical educational materials for Iraqi physicians as a
symbol of our solidarity, to inspire hope among Iraqi physicians and

3)  To conduct workshops for Iraqi physicians to update them on medical
advances of last 8 years

4)  To become educated on the situation of public health in Iraq:  to
visit medical facilities, to meet with physicians and public health
workers, and become acquainted with current treatment methods and
limitations in medical practice in Iraq

5)  To raise awareness of the tragic situation in Iraq

Upon my return, I am planning to prepare a presentation about the public
health situation in Iraq and about my experiences during this mission

I will keep you posted on when this will take place. Please support this
mission with donations of medical supplies, text books and journals as
well as with financial contributions.  Any donation of $5 to $500+ will
greatly appreciated.  I will use the money to purchase additional
supplies and cover some of the costs of the travel.

Please make a check payable to Physicians for Social Responsibility and
mail it to the address below.  This donation is tax deductible. 

Magdalene Szuszkiewicz                  home ph. #: (410) 737-8013
17917 Shotley Bridge Pl                 my pager #: (410) 582-6990
Olney, MD 20832                                 e-mail:

Please contact me if you would like me to pick up any donations of
supplies, books or journals.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to call me or page me.  This
mission is one of many successful missions organized by PSR and
International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War.  I have articles
about previous missions, which I will be happy to send to you if you are

 This is a list of needed supplies:
   Anti-diarrheals (prescription and OTC)
   Analgesics (prescription and OTC)
   Anti-inflammatory (prescription and OTC)
   IV supplies
   Textbooks - after 1991
   Medical Journals - after 1991
   Physician's Desk Reference (PDR)
   Tongue Depressors
   Wound dressings/band-aids
   Paper notebooks
   Pens, pencils
   Single bed sheets

Thank you very much for your attention and I am hoping to hear from you

Magdalene Szuszkiewicz, 
medical student
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Enclosed below is a personal narrative from an Iraqi currently living in
the US. It is one example of an Iraqi Voice.

In an effort to encourage further personal narratives from Iraqis, I am
setting up a section called "Iraqi Voices" on the Iraq Action Coalition
website <>.  The "Iraqi Voices" is an opportunity
Iraqis to share stories about their personal struggle *during this
sanctions war.* How is the family coping? How are they coping? We need
make people recognize that we are not dealing with mere statistics, with
the lives of individuals, people with dreams and loves and families.  
(Please note that the 'Iraqi Voices' section is not designed to become a
vehicle for either the anti or pro-Iraqi government organizations.)

If you have any stories to share, or would like more information, please
e-mail me at either <> or <>.  
In Solidarity,
-Rania Masri
Iraq Action Coalition
Iraq Forum
Saturday 13 March

I am 32 years old.  I left Iraq when I was 16.  I would like to begin by
talking about my memories of the country as a kid.  I would like to
emphasize that what follows is from my own personal experiences and
of people that are very close to me.  During the early 1970s, the
government in Iraq nationalized Iraqi oil and withdrew the rights from
foreign companies to exploit the oil fields of Iraq thus keeping the
majority of the profits.

>From that point on there was a boom in every aspect of life, economic,
cultural, scientific.  I come from a large extended family with 17
and aunts and an average of 3 kids each.  If I include my friends and
their families I would be describing the lives of well over 100 people
that hail >from different walks of life and different parts of the
country....they range from research scientists, veterinarians, doctors,
dentists, teachers, engineers, civil servants, factory workers,
and jewelers.  They also represent three different religions (Muslim
Shi'ite and Sunni, Christian Catholic and Mendaii) and three ethnic
(Arabic, Turkoman and Kurd) ...all had a decent standard of living.  All
either owned their houses outright or were living in the family homes
(usually big enough for two to three families).  A few of my school
friends that came from poorer families were in fact given government
renovated or built housing at no or only nominal charges and
of these families as well as government employees (including many of my
relatives and family friends) helped in the building of these houses.  
These projects were referred to as popular labor housing projects.  I
myself with my family lived in such a dwelling for one year prior to
moving to our family home which was being built at the time.  Almost
everybody had at least one car and many vacationed abroad.  At that
one Iraqi Dinar was equivalent to three US dollars.

During that period of time, the government rewarded academics and
scientists who had distinguished themselves in their work...for example
father (and many of his peers) was given a free plot to build a house
sq. meters ~ 5400 sq. feet) which was finished in 1977.  He also paid
$2000 to buy a new Mercedes with the rest of the cost picked up by the
government.  He drove it back from Europe in 1976.  He was also awarded
26 inch colored TV, made in Iraq, that entered service in our living
in 1978 and is still there in full working order even as we
speak...obviously, not everybody got the same treatment but almost all
enough money to buy their own plots of land (as big as or bigger than
own) and built their own houses.  There were no taxes to pay.  My
education, as that of my sisters, relatives and friends both male and
female, was compulsory for the first 6 years.  It was also free from the
elementary level to the end of the University level. Literacy in Iraq
above 75%.  Higher education (such as MS, Ph.D.) was free if conducted
inside the country.  For the people that attained high standards, it was
conducted abroad with all the expenses paid for by the government. In
fact, my fathers' Ph.D. and that of all of his peers was completed in
Britain at no expense to them.  New books were provided every year to
every student at the elementary and high school levels by the
The Health service, second to none in the middle east and Asia at the
time, was free and available to every citizen including visits to the
dentist and the optometrist.  Infant mortality was low and within world
health organization margins.  Public transport to all parts of the
was plentiful and cheap and included trains, planes and automobiles.  
There was no unemployment to speak of....during all the time that I was
there, the only people that I met who were without work were the elderly
and the infirm who lived on government pensions and social security.  In
fact, until the early 1990s, the Iraqi economy had absorbed literally
millions of workers from Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Palestine and farmers

The government also built roads, canals, bridges and delivered
to the most remote areas of the country.  All the major cities of the
country were clean and pollution free.  From what I gather from my
and friends, all of this continued essentially without change until

Since the imposition of the sanctions almost 9 years ago, the people of
Iraq have suffered daily.  Unemployment runs rampant, with people having
to hold more than one job, sometimes up to four a week, to be able to
and clothe their families.....some people have resorted to selling
fixtures such as door frames from their own homes to get enough money to
survive.  Many children have left school to help support their families
and illiteracy is increasing...Schools have no new books and
have been deprived of any new publications and new equipment including
computers to conduct research and experiments....The computer revolution
is passing the children of Iraq by as very few people can afford the
hardware or the software..even if..they can get their hands on smuggled
goods....many of the highly qualified young men and women have left the
country for the lack of any prospects.....This brain drain has left an
enormous dent that is going to leave a scar for a very long time to
Factories, the ones that were left standing after 1991, can't run for
lack of raw materials and/or equipment that actually works....there are
few if any spare parts for anything.  The same situation occurs in farms
across the country.....very little fertilizer is available and farm
machinery stands idle .....there have been many outbreaks of diseases
have devastated the livestock populations for the lack of vaccines since
most of the facilities that make them have been destroyed.  Cars have
no spare parts available for almost a decade...pollution from their
emissions is at a record breaking high.  Food is rationed and heavily
subsidized ... the rations usually last for about two weeks only....the
rest of the food has to come from the open market at extremely high
prices.  Today, one US dollar is equivalent to 1200 Dinars.

Up to 4500 children die every month (a rate of infant mortality unheard
before 1991).  These deaths are direct consequence of the sanctions.  
Many of the children who have survived will have stunted growth and will
have to live with that for the rest of their lives....the health system
has collapsed.....the hospitals cannot perform the easiest of operations
and the doctors are invariably left consoling parents, brothers, sisters
and children for the loss of their loved ones.  There are no or very few
social projects funded by the government and if there are any they are
usually aimed at sanitizing the water supply and fixing the sewage
that was destroyed.....still however, large puddles of sewage are
available for children with bare feet to play in leaving the door open
a multitude of diseases that were eradicated prior to 1991.  The
historical sites of Iraq.....the cradle of Babylon,
Hatra and other locations too many to mention have been pillaged by
smugglers and many of these sites have had no maintenance since the
1990s.....this heritage of the people of Iraq and all mankind that stood
for thousands of years has been slowly eroded and plundered over the
9 years.  As if this was not enough for the ordinary people.....since
they have also had to endure the periodical bombing campaigns and the
almost daily skirmishes...that are having grave psychological
on adults and children alike.  The problem is not just food and
medicine....people around the world...don't just eat when they are
and pop pills when they have headaches......there are other things that
fact separate human beings >from the animals in the zoo....what
them is education, it is health both mental and physical, it is
employment, it is having an infrastructure in the country that will
future generations to have a better is being able to provide a
good decent existence for yourself and your is self esteem
and pride...every thing that allows people to feel good about themselves
and their families and distinguish themselves as being part of humanity
the twentieth century and indeed very soon the twenty is
everything that is pronounced by the Universal Declaration of Human
and it is everything that the people of Iraq are deprived of today.  The
death, suffering and destruction of the 20 million hostages in Iraq
continues today as it has unabated for the past 2935 days......Last
December when I called my parents after the bombing of Baghdad, my
asked me....when will it all end, Samer, when will it all end?

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