Sophia's Peace Work

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Hello All, I tried to send this email from the Green Zone ... but the over-priced internet there crapped out on me, so I'll try to recreate it here.

I spent most of this morning at two refugee camps (one down the road from my old hotel and one at the Mukahabarat ... I may be butchering the spelling but this was the site of the notorious Iraqi Intelligence Agency). We spent our time, walking through ruined, partially collapsed buildings and talking to the new residents that have taken over these areas (the first had about 4000 people living there and the 2nd had about 500). At the first place there is a clear line of ownership ... the buildings were part of a club and recreation center and included an area owned by own of Saddams cousins ... but the 2nd area was the Mukahabarat and government property ... and from what we could see, many people seems to be struggling for control of it. We spent some time with a woman and her son who has some kind of nerve dysfunction and can no longer walk. They look to us as if we can somehow solve their problems, but this boy needs a specialist and there is no money. We haven't a clue what to say them.

From there we traveled into the Green Zone ... another world really. We learned that we, living beyond the walls, were living in the Red Zone ... and several people were surprised to find this out. There are many people, it seems, who never leave the Green Zone. After traveling the overcrowded streets of Baghdad for four weeks the Green Zone seemed so quiet and in some places nearly deserted. It's an enormous area. Once inside the Zone, we needed to take a taxi to the Palace (we were looking for someone that Lorna knew). We went into an internet cafe which was in a beautifully decorated building frequented by soldiers of the 1st Division (I believe ... Old Ironside was on their shirt patches). It had pool and ping pong tables and TV with English language programs.

Afterwords we strolled through one of Oday (or was it Qusay's) palaces. There was a bunker beneath it and the U.S. hit it with two bunker busting bombs. Workers were inside pulling out chandeliers, doors, toilets ... anything of value. It was an amazing place and, despite our better judgment (bunker buster bombs, I've been told, are tipped with depleted uranium) we couldn't help poking around a bit ... we even came across two Pentagon analysts (they were the ones that told us about the hidden bunker and the bombing of the building) doing the same thing and picking up bits and pieces here and there as souvenirs.

So just another strange day in Iraq!


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