Thursday, May 01, 2008

Help for Iraqis

Photo: Nine-year-old Salee Allawe with Marcie McGrath, “The Balloon Fairy,” at the First Congregational United Church in Asheville in September. An Iraqi child wounded by a U.S. bomb, Allawe was brought to this country for treatment by the group No More Victims, which is now trying to bring Allawe’s cousin over for medical care. (John Fletcher, Asheville Citizen Times)

I saw a video lately of an Iraqi man whose daughter got life-saving surgery in Nashville, and it was clear he did develop a bond with the US soldier who got that arranged - and prompted the Iraqi man to forgive a prior prison term under the American occupation. So, I think it healed some wounds, there - but, there are serious issues around having our military fulfill such a function.

I am such a bleeding heart for kids that I think they should all be helped, and I think it is good for the US soldiers to get medical care arranged for an Iraqi child or adult, but there are many serious issues around our military acting like the Peace Corps or a Developmental Agency. Actually, our military is often taking on the functions of the state department in Iraq. They have figured out that Iraqis need jobs and incomes, and have started providing that.... which is what the State Dept should have done from the start..... but the State Department was too incompetent to do it (or bush/cheney didn't want them too).

But there are a lot of problems with mixing humanitarian with military functions. For starters, it is less safe for the civilians and our military. Our military should function only to kill our enemies after they have attacked us. (I am a pacifist, so I don't agree with this, but that is what the military is for.) Of course, Iraq and Afghanistan and the dozen or so other places we are bombing NEVER were our enemies and never attacked us either. We created our own enemies there! And that was very, very stupid.

There was a church in NY that was collecting toys and school supplies for Mosul kids, again given out through the military (bad idea – should be through a humanitarian organization).... but what really upset me was some lady saying that maybe giving these kids some toys and stuff would make them realize that Americans are good and giving people!!!!! Well, after watching US soldiers shoot up your parents or siblings, no damn toy is going to change your mind!! It is beyond reason to think that this will work. Sometimes I think I could start a new blog – and call it MY STUPID COUNTRY.

I know that many folks in Iraq who have worked with Americans in any capacity are targeted, and I feel we should help them get out of Iraq as best we can. I passed a resolution about helping the Iraqi refugees at our Democratic precinct meeting this month – I expect it will pass at the state level also. Here is a copy of the resolution:


Whereas the estimates of Iraqi refugees, both internal and external to Iraq, are well over 4.5 million and representing at least 14% of the total population; and whereas a large number of these refugees left their homes with nothing more than a suitcase, and whereas the majority of them are in dire poverty; and whereas they are lacking in clean water, food, health care, electricity, job opportunities and security; and

Whereas this situation came to be as a direct consequence of the US led invasion and occupation of Iraq; and whereas not addressing this situation would be a moral failure on our part. Whereas our lack of assistance will likely result in more instability and violence in the Middle East in that the role of “protector and provider” may be provided by sectarian actors in the pattern of Hamas or Hezbollah (as per Rep. Waters); whereas a failure to address this crisis could spell disaster for the entire region; and

Whereas the country of Sweden has resettled more than ten times more Iraqis than the country of the United States of America in the last fiscal year; and

Whereas the non-partisan Congressional Research Service said that “The impact of this level of displacement cannot be underestimated in terms of it’s impact on regional stability and the potential for humanitarian suffering.”, and whereas there currently is no coordinated plan or strategy to meet this crisis, therefore;

Therefore, be it resolved that the United States of America will meet the pre-established goals to resettle displaced Iraqis here in the United States;

Therefore, be it also resolved that the NC Democratic Party will ask all Democrats in North Carolina who are elected to the US House of Representatives to co-sponsor HR 5488 which is the “Recovery and Stability in Iraq Act of 2008” to assist in meeting our goals and basic requirements of humanity in regards to the Iraqi refugee crisis. This bill will provide for an Iraqi Displacement Coordinator who will report directly to the President and will identify programs that address the humanitarian needs of the displaced Iraqis and develop strategies to address those needs.


And, I and some other local women are working to help an Iraqi child get the medical care she needs here in the USA. There is a local newspaper article about this:

Help for the victims: WNC women seek to aid Iraqi children

In September, Anne Craig went from despair to hope when she met Salee Allawe, a 9-year-old Iraqi girl who lost both legs in a U.S. bomb attack near her home.

“I knew I could do something about the devastation that’s been caused in Iraq,” Craig said. “I decided then to start a chapter of No More Victims here in Asheville.”

No More Victims is a national relief organization that works to get medical sponsorship for war-injured Iraqi children and to forge ties between the children, their families and communities in the United States. It is the subject of the monthly movie night at the Unitarian/Universalist Church on Friday.

We are arranging other events for fund raisers, but if you wish to donate go to No More Victims website and put “Rusul” in the memo line. Rusul is the sister of Salee, and we are bringing her to South Carolina for medical care soon. Thanks very much!