Thursday, June 07, 2007

George Bush; spreading homelessness worldwide is job #1

RE: War Refugees Live in Baghdad Trash Dump

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Patriots Speak Out ®©™
Date: Jun 7, 2007 12:28 AM

War Refugees Live in Baghdad Trash Dump
By JANE ARRAF Posted 8 hr. 20 min. ago
Trash dump in southwestern Baghdad area of al-Shoula, home to dozens of Shiite families displaced by sectarian cleansing in formerly mixed neighborhoods.
Photo by Jane Arraf/IraqSlogger
Trash dump in southwestern Baghdad area of al-Shoula, home to dozens of Shiite families displaced by sectarian cleansing in formerly mixed neighborhoods.

Baghdad – Their old homes were in mixed neighborhoods of Abu Ghraib and a-Haswa. Their new homes are literally built of garbage.

At first glance it looked like a huge field of trash with water buffalo wallowing in stagnant water and piles of garbage burning in the distance.

And then the garbage trucks came. As a landslide of trash came sliding from the backs of the trucks, women in abayas rushed forward to pick through it, darting around the sheep competing with them.

The last time I’d seen people pick through garbage in Iraq was immediately after the 1991 war, when Baghdad was shattered by the bombing and the shock of trade sanctions, when people would do almost anything to eat.

One woman carried away a large square of cardboard. Another flung masses of plastic bags out of her way as she dug deeper into the pile.

“They live on the garbage,” said one of the Iraqi policeman on a highway overpass overlooking the field.

I was with soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division who were watching an Iraqi police checkpoint in al-Shoula, in southwestern Baghdad. The checkpoint, manned by Shiite police, seemed to be working. Police officers climbed into the back of trucks to inspect them and listened to directions from the American soldiers on checking gun permits.

“They’re pretty receptive to how to do things better which is what we look for,” said platoon leader 1st Lieutenant Christopher Ford.

But then there was that field of trash. What had looked at first glance like just a garbage dump was dotted with crude brick homes and mud huts with walls reinforced with tin cans and roofs of corrugated iron and cardboard.

Small children played barefoot in the dirt. An elderly man hobbled by on a crutch. The water buffalo, valued in the south of Iraq for their milk, wallowed in stagnant ponds that had turned a dark maroon color from the waste.

There is no clean water, no sewage, no electricity. Just makeshift houses in a seemingly never-ending field of trash. When Saddam was in power, it was to have been a sports stadium.

Iraqi police taking a break in the shade at a checkpoint near the trash dump.
Photo by Jane Arraf/IraqSlogger
Iraqi police taking a break in the shade at a checkpoint near the trash dump.
The police said the Shiite families had been driven out of al-Haswa south of Baghdad by sectarian cleansing. They said there were perhaps 100 families who had arrived over the past year.

One of the policemen himself was displaced. Mohammad, 27, said his family had had two houses and a supermarket in Abu Ghraib, near Baghdad.

“They took them and we had to leave,” he said. “Who took them?” I asked. “The terrorists,” he said, meaning Sunni extremists. He said two of his cousins had been killed there.

As a policeman, he said he made 100,000 dinars a month – about $70. He and his colleagues spend ten days at a time at the checkpoint with no running water and a makeshift tent for shade. “We have to buy our own uniforms,” one of his colleagues said. “Look at his shoes.” One of the police was wearing mismatched plastic sandals.

The group was from Diwaniyah, in the Shiite south of Iraq. “Life was better under Saddam because then there were no terrorists,” one said. “Nothing has changed except they removed Saddam - we didn’t have electricity or water then either.”

Five-year-old refugee Sajad Abbas.
Photo by Jane Arraf/IraqSlogger
Five-year-old refugee Sajad Abbas.
“All of the Arab countries around us are against Iraq,” said another. “Even Iran – Iran just uses Iraq.”

Next to the police station in al-Shoula, Younnis, who runs the parking lot, introduces me to Sajad Abbas, who is five years old.

“This is one of our refugees,” he tells me. “There are lots of them everywhere.” He says Sajad’s family was also driven out of al-Haswa, fleeing to al-Shoula, a Shiite neighborhood controlled by the Mehdi Army.

In turn, Sunni families fled their homes in al-Shula. “They went to Abu Ghraib, to Fallujah, to al-Anbar,” Younnis says.

I ask him whether people prefer it that way. “It’s not right,” he says. “We were brothers for years.”

Labels: , , , , ,



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker