As we prepare to depart Iraq, our flight is delayed for seven hours. We learned that the newly appointed senior director of the electricity board has been assassinated and the electricity workers trying to return power to Baghdad have been attacked.
A people in turmoil
Although Iraq has been through 30 years of sanctions and a war before this one, we are told that the country had never had security problems. The Hussein regime’s military rule made the consequences to violating the rules too grave. We leave a troubled people. Iraqi’s are not used to being this vulnerable. Today, this is a country riddled with petty theft, assault and looting. People are often without water and electricity and huddle in their houses during the night in fear. They are watchful during the day and many parents cannot send their children to school because they are not safe AND because the schools are not operational. Humanitarian aid here is about reinstating the basic infrastructure for survival.
The security problems are clearly hampering humanitarian work. The looting has exacerbated the infrastructure problems exponentially. Looters have dismantled and disrupted every channel used to service the population: hospitals, water treatment, power
generation, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, and more. The humanitarian relief organizations have herculean obstacles to overcome. Their knowledge of the Iraqi people and the country would give them an edge toward restoring normalcy in any other disaster theatre. We leave wondering what it will take to reassemble the infrastructure of civil life.