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[casi] Aid (Julia Guest)

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I had to go and witness the CNN party for myself.  Toget there meant walking two hundred yards to 
thePalestine hotel, past the kids sleeping on a patch ofgrass next to my hotel.  They have been 
there for morethan a week now.  A group of ten or so youngteenagers, the youngest are girls.  They 
are dyingslowly.  In the chaos of the war the US troops liberated theorphanages, so I have been 
told.  These kids haduniforms, and the logic was they were prisoners ofSaddam’s regime.  Now they 
are dying on a patch of grass while CNNparties on.  Just nearby is the Magic carpet ofSinbad, a 
large bronze sculpture of every child’sfantasy story of flying carpets. Somewhere these kidshave 
learnt to sniff glue, their escape.Each day you see them holding their stomachs in pain,their eyes 
glazed, they harass anyone who walks past. They are starving.  One young boy has broken leg, it’sin 
plaster, but he has no crutches, so his friendshelp him move around.  I was surprised one day to 
seea US soldier walk
 into the middle of the group, but itwas only to sort out who had been stealing.It’s easier if you 
can imagine that the great NGOs arehere and starting to help.  Maybe they are, but Ican’t see 
where.  I visited the Al Kindy hospital withSalem; he was investigating stories of rape.  As 
westood the yard five ambulances pulled in, they hadjust driven five serious burns victims in from 
a townnear the Jordanian border 600 miles away, an explosionof some kind.  It had left two of them 
with 100% burns, a sight Iwill never forget, charred bodies, where you can stillonly just guess at 
age, a seventeen year old boy,maybe.  There is really no hope for them people seemedto be saying.  
The doctor would not even come andlook, we asked why.  “We now have 10 to 15 serious buncases a 
day, our specialist rooms for them are full,they will have to go to another hospital”.  They 
hadalready been turned away from one hospital for thesame reason; we went to the next, ahead of 
theambulances.  No space there
 either, these ambulancemen were destined to spend the night roaming Baghdad. As they ambulances 
didn’t appear at this hospital wedrove back and found one had been stopped by the USarmy.  Two men 
were sitting next to it with theirhands tied back.  One of the soldiers spotted mefilming and Salem 
panicked, “we can’t stop, we can’task, they will arrest me and confiscate your camera,trust me I 
know the Americans”.   We decided to carry on with the investigation intorape; there is a 
specialist hospital for these caseswe were told.  We arrived at what used to be Saddammedical city. 
 The buildings gates were shut, a posteron the wall showed the photo of a girl who had 
beenabducted.  Eventually a guard came out, the buildingis closed, he told us, it is being used as 
a morguefor all the bodies that do not yet have deathcertificates.  It’s full.It’s all about 
finding implementers one funding groupfrom the states told us, we have the cash to fund lifesaving 
projects but we need people who can
 actuallycarry this out.  Occasionally you can see the roughlypainted banners of the Islamic relief 
agency, oneimplementer in action.   I asked in the Aliwiyahmaternity hospital if they had seen any 
of the NGO’s. No one was the reply, we see journalists, three mencame from ORHA came a few weeks 
ago, but they didn’tcome back.  We have supplies left for another sixweeks; these were given to us 
before the war by thegovernment.Raed a friend from CIVIC showed me a satellite photoof the 
hospitals in Baghdad that NGOs are being given. I could help thinking is that as close as they 
havegot?  During the bombing Medicine Sans Frontieres wereoccupying the Al Kindy hospital, now 
there was onlytwo Iraqi doctors, in the causality department, whohad the air of being beyond 
compassion, they wereexhausted.  In the space of an hour I saw the fiveburns patients, three 
children with injuries fromplaying with munitions and one near fatal gun shotinjury in the unit.  
Outside of Baghdad is different; Raed
 assured me thereare NGOs sometimes different groups all in the samehospital.   In Nassariya I 
remember the doctorscomplaining, in a place where they had the heaviestinjuries from fighting, 
their first consignment of Aidfrom Kuwait was shampoo and bandages out of date byten years.Basra is 
rapidly regaining its confidence, a bustlingport and market.  People are walking in the 
street,eating ice cream and looking relaxed.  And here theNGO’s are getting started, although one 
told me, yourestock the hospitals and within a day the stock isbeing sold on the black market.  One 
human rightsworker told us, the alcohol shop owners are beingkilled, one now has four armed guards 
outside hishome.  Co-ordination of Aid is being discussed at the Canalhotel in Baghdad; the UN 
building it still functionsand has set up a great centralising point for NGOaction.  So I am going 
to make an effort to spot themin Baghdad from now on, I saw two from Aide Medicalcollecting Pizza 
from a restaurant, that’s a

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