Sophia's Peace Work

Thursday, April 15, 2004

We’re back from Fallujah. Could you get us some cold beer?

Our friends had been in Fallujah, Iraq for nearly 48 hours, so it was time to consider our options. Two of us had remained behind to act as support and to explain to everyone else why our friends had gone against all advice and traveled back into Fallujah to provide aid support in the city. Fallujah has become a bloody, flashpoint between the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi resistance. As support we decided that if we didn’t heard from the group by 3 pm, we would need to act.

We put a plan of action together and started making our calls. Then we split up and I went to INTERSOS, a humanitarian aid organization, in the hopes that they had contacts in Fallujah. They took our information but only promised to pass it along. With nothing else to do but wait, I decided to track down the status of Ahmed, the young man with MS who’s case I have been following (I can report some success … he’s been seen at the MS Clinic and we’ll try and talk to his doctor this weekend).

While I was at the hospital, one of the team members from Fallujah called. They were on the outskirts of Baghdad and heading home. Their only request?

“Could you get us some cold beer?”

I called everyone I knew to give them the good news and headed back with my interpreter, A, to the apartment to make a heaping fruit salad (A told me that, as women, we couldn’t buy any beer, so I gave that job my support partner). The team showed up with stories of how they had been shot at by both American soldiers and Mujahadeen and later kidnapped and then released by the latter.

“How did you get home?”

“Our kidnappers brought us back and dropped us off out front.”

Again, they indicated that they saw no effective ceasefire in Fallujah and that, when they were in Fallujah, they had tried to accompany an ambulance with supplies to a hospital but were fired upon by U.S. forces, even though they had clearly identified themselves as aid workers. They were kidnapped when they were trying to leave the city yesterday after a tense moment caught in the crossfire between U.S. forces and Mujahadin.

“They were mostly just surprised to see us,” one of the team members said, “They told us, ‘We are Muslim. You don’t need to worry. We won’t hurt you.’” The team was detained and once their captors realized that they were aid workers they were treated well and the next day escorted home.

Thus ended two days of nail-biting for me!


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