The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] US military bans Iraq Peace Team from press contact after revelations of humanitarian planning failure

Press Release      Friday 18 April 2pm
Voices in the Wilderness UK
0845 458 2564 / 07791 486484

US military in Baghdad bans American peace campaigners from Palestine
Hotel press centre after revelations of humanitarian planning failure.

Less than 24 hours after issuing a press release highlighting the
failure of the U.S. military to provide for humanitarian relief in Iraq,
members of Voices in the Wilderness have been banned from meeting with
the U.S. Civil Military Operations Center and with international
journalists working out of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

The peace activists from the campaigning organisation Voices in the
Wilderness are part of the Iraq Peace Team (1) which has been in Iraq
since September 2002. On April 16, members of the Iraq Peace Team (IPT)
had a meeting with representatives of the US Military's Civil Operations
Center (CMOC) where they discovered that CMOC is only now considering
drawing up a plan to restore essential services and that they will only
share the plan with organisations and NGOs which agree to waive their
neutrality and work with the US military. The discussions also suggested
that CMOC are deliberately side-lining UN agencies, the Red Cross and
other organisations which have been working in Iraq for many years and
which could provide vital information about Iraq's civilian
infrastructure. CMOC appears to lack basic knowledge of what is
happening in Iraq and also of American organisations that were set up by
the Pentagon to help with relief work and which are not even in the

After the meeting the IPT issued a press release (2), critical of the
military's handling of the humanitarian crisis. The following day (17
April) Voices in the Wilderness members were banned from the Palestine
Hotel, home not only to CMOC but also the international press corps.

In their press release (2) the IPT commented that, "prior to the war,
the Pentagon set up Humanitarian Operations Coordination Centers (the
HOC in Qatar and Kuwait, and the HAC in Jordan), as well as disaster
assistance response teams (DART), to coordinate relief efforts between
the U.S. military and United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
Not only are HOC, HAC, and DART personnel not in Baghdad yet, CMOC was
not even aware of the existence of these other military-humanitarian
coordinating bodies.

"CMOC reported that they did not yet have a plan for how to restore
essential services in Baghdad, but are working on creating such a plan
today. However, that information will not be publicly available for
review, and will only be shared with organizations that agree to work
with the U.S. military in Baghdad - cutting out any humanitarian agency
that insists on maintaining neutrality.

"CMOC also reported that they spent several days locating hospitals,
power plants, and water & sanitation plants in order to do needs
assessments. Apparently no one in the U.S. military thought to ask the
United Nations, or other international organizations working in Iraq,
for any of this information prior to, or even after, the fall of
Baghdad. The World Health Organization and the Red Cross have been
working in Iraq for years. The United Nations Development program has
been working to assist Iraq in restoring electricity since 1996.

"When told that of rumors of a cholera outbreak in Hilla, CMOC even
asked Voices in the Wilderness where that neighborhood was located in
Baghdad - unaware that Hilla is a major Iraqi city located approximately
1 hour south of Baghdad!"

1. The Iraq Peace team ( was initiated by
members of Voices in the Wilderness US (campaigning against economic
sanctions and war on Iraq) and have been in Iraq since September 2002.
They report regularly on
2. For the full version of the IPT press release, Heavy-handed and
hopeless, the U.S. military doesn't know what it's doing in Iraq, see

Emma Sangster

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]