Sophia's Peace Work

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Well June 30th is here and it has been surprisingly quiet ... I've mostly been in Karrada Outside and near the city center on the Khark side (took two boat rides to look at some boats). I haven't seen or heard quite so many helicopter patrols, but I have seen some street patrols and the usual number of blocked roads. I haven't heard the news today and there may be other things going on.

Looks like I may have found some boats that are fast enough for the trip on July 11th but we had to do some serious negotiations ... they wanted 350,000 ID for each boat (over $240 and well out of my budget) ... I did some fast talking (well, my translator Mazin did ... but I stood around with pained expressions on my face, which must have counted for something!) and got them down to 175,000 ID each ($120 - still more than I wanted to spend but I had to bit the bullet). Still they are the fastest boats I've seen and it will mean that we can get down the river in probably no more than 6 hours ... which, given how hot it is now at mid-day, will be well worth it.

I'll be spending tomorrow visiting Arabic and Western press offices to distribute press releases about the trip ... Check below as well as the pictures of the water plant I'm trying to identify and get information about. I'm not sure but it may be the plant that is known locally as "Nile Flower" and is a noxious, invasive plant.


English Language: Sophia
7 901 308 562

Arabic Language: Mazin Sami
7 901 313 321

Iraqis make first environmental assessment of river

July 1, 2004 – Engineers from the Ministry of Environment’s Baghdad Environment Office will do their first river survey of the Tigris River since the war.

Ministry Staff and representatives of Iraqi Environmental NGO’s will on hand to discuss the environmental challenges facing Iraq after decades of war, sanctions and occupation.

Iraqis will travel by boat down the length of the Tigris River in their capital city for the first time since Saddam took control and made it impossible for the people of Iraq to visit and enjoy large sections of their own river.

The Tigris River Project is a landmark trip down the Tigris River from the Muthana Bridge in the north of Baghdad to the mouth of the Diyala River at the southern extent of the city. It will take place on Sunday, July 11th from 7 a.m. to approximately 12 noon (+/- 1 hour). Coalition Military Units have been informed and have given clearance for the trip (there will be some limitations on taking pictures). The Iraqi River Police will provide a discreet escort for the trip.

According to the UN Environmental Program’s Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq (2003), the collapse of Iraq’s sewage treatment systems has led to the dumping of vast amounts of untreated, raw sewage (mixed with industrial wastes, which has no separate system) into Iraq’s waters. Much of these releases occur on the Tigris River in Baghdad, which also serves as the major source for drinking water for the city.

The Tigris, called “the Great River” and known (in the Bible) as one of the rivers of Eden, is anything but dead. Fish still swim in its waters and many individuals making their living on and by the river. Although the river landings and sides are characterized by floating trash and derelict boats, children still come down to swim its waters on hot days. The problems of this river are emblematic of the larger environmental challenges facing the Iraqi people today. The Tigris River Project will take a look at the results of war, sanctions and government neglect and try to clarify the solutions necessary to recover from this bitter legacy.

Space is extremely limited and invited press officials are asked to confirm the name and contact information for one representative who will take part in this trip by Thursday, July 8th at 12 Noon to the contacts listed on this press release.

Final trip confirmation and logistics (meeting location and times) will be provided by Saturday, July 10th at 12 Noon.


Now on to the mystery plant ...


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