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Thursday, November 18, 2004

"Trying to Get Big Enough to Battle Wal-Mart"
New York Times November 18th 2004

While United States forces mount the final military operations to pacify Fallujah, the people of the devastated city have taken refuge in outlying towns, many of them huddled in misery, without adequate food, water, medicine and shelter.

More than 80 per cent of the population of 300,000 are living in nearby towns or in Baghdad. The US military has barred aid convoys from Fallujah, insisting they have enough resources to look after the remaining civilians. But the few who have ventured to the distribution centres risk getting caught in crossfire.

Aid organisations say 102,000 Fallujah refugees are in Amiriyah, 50,000 are in Baghdad; about 21,600 are in Karma, 18,000 are in Nieamiyah and 12,000 are in Habbaniyah. Unicef and the aid groups say Amiriyah, an industrial centre, suffers from a serious lack of shelter, and Habbaniyah, formerly a tourist resort, has a severe shortage of clean water.

A 33-year-old photographer for Associated Press, who escaped the city during the fighting, said: "I decided to swim the river. But I changed my mind after seeing US helicopters firing and killing people who tried to cross. I saw a family of five shot dead. I helped bury a man by the river bank with my own hands."

He had planned to stay in Fallujah to cover the fighting. But he said he fled after feeling he was in grave danger. "US soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided it was very dangerous to stay," he said. "Destruction was everywhere. I saw people dead in the streets, the wounded were bleeding and there was no one to help them."

One woman said: "I left four of my sons behind. They had said they would join me here if the situation became worse. I do not know how much worse it can get."
The Independent Novemeber 18th 2004







Comments:
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