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Cry from the heart – letter from Baghdad


wish you could all be here – it’s so different from what we see on TV. As we drove through Baghdad for the first time, all I could think, over and over, was the simple truth that at the heart of it all: this is just a place where people live. Ordinary people, welcoming people.  These are the people who will suffer. Baghdad is a sprawling, residential city. Kids tote backpacks to and from school, play soccer on patches of dust along the road, wave at us from the sidewalks. The streets are busy with cars, and the sidewalks are lined with small shops – although most have very few shoppers and many are closed completely. Today we went to a maternity hospital run by the Dominican sisters here in Baghdad. Sr. Bushra Gaggi OP who runs the hospital told us that many of the women have been coming to the hospital, begging her to give them Caesarean sections, so that their babies will be born before the bombing begins. Yesterday, we went to a public hospital – the Director told us about all of the effects of the sanctions and of the devastation that would occur if we have another war – only one Iraqi hospital in the entire nation has a machine for radiation treatment. All of the others have broken down. Most children and adults with cancer have no hope. The oil-for-food program is not enough – the hospitals still do not receive enough medicine, equipment, or training, and malnutrition is still an enormous problem. Five million Iraqi children are malnourished. We visited the cancer ward, full of children. They sat on beds, four to a room, and their mothers sat beside them. They wel-comed us, tried

6 Tui Motu InterIslands

to smile for pictures, and yet two of the mothers broke down weeping while we were there... All of the parishes, in November, had a day of fasting and prayer for peace. There is a desperate hope that we can make a difference, but already many times I feel helpless to avert this war. And yet many people still speak of hope – and we must hope, and pray, and act... Sheila Provenchar The following statement was read aloud at a prayer service at St Joseph’s Chaldean Rite Church, December 18, 2002 in Baghdad:


o all people of good will in the United States: We US religious leaders gather with our Iraqi brothers and sisters to pray for the common peace that we all desire. As women and men of faith, we have

spent ten days in Iraq during this season of preparation for Christmas. The Iraqi people have suffered for the past 12 years under the most comprehensive sanctions in modern history. Water and sewage treatment facilities are not functioning due to the lack of spare parts, and children die of waterborn illnesses. Hospitals are crippled by old and broken-down machinery. Depleted uranium from US munitions is linked to a 400 percent increase in the cancer rate in southern Iraq – and this at a time when sanc-tions deny the people critical medi-cines needed for treatment of cancer and other diseases. These are the people our government is preparing to sacrifice as “collateral damage” in an unconscionable war. As we speak, Iraqi people live in fear of an attack that could happen any day. A war against the people of Iraq will slaughter thousands of innocent men, women and children in a land already devastated by sanctions. A war could also kill and injure countless young Americans. And a war will unleash violent repercussions and terrorist acts that could destroy our world.

War is not the answer. We must seek a path to peace. Therefore, people of good will, join us in insisting that our government stop this madness and commit to a Courtesy of Garrick Tremain, Queenstown path of active nonviolent sisters, who are people like our-selves. resolution. We as ordinary people can Together we can support the work of the reach out to our Iraqi brothers and United Nations and other international These messages were received via efforts to build peace. Sr Kathy Thornton rsm, member of In peace we pray. a US peace delegation, visiting Iraq Iraq Peace Journey: U.S. Religious Leaders Delegation

last December. Included is part of an agreed statement read out at a prayer service in Baghdad

Tui motu 2003 february  
Tui motu 2003 february