More on the Babies of Fallujah and Basra

So, here’s where I am with my latest obsession, those babies in Fallujah and Basra:

Alone, not sure where to go, but still determined to try to find a way to help.

Pictures and images like this are imprinted on my brain:

Fallujah

I’ve been exchanging emails with the courageous doctor mentioned in the Democracy Now piece, below. Here’s a link if you want the full story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNi_1pbSqGY

And here’s a portion of the  transcript, emphasis mine. It helps to give some background to my efforts.

DAHR JAMAIL:  And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. There is one doctor, a pediatrician named Dr. Samira Alani, working on this crisis in the city. She’s the only person there registering cases. And she’s seeing horrific birth defects. I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.

And so, what this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the aftermath of—in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were—that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II. So, Dr. Samira Alani actually visited with doctors in Japan, comparing statistics, and found that the amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings. These types of birth defects, she said—there are types of congenital malformations that she said they don’t even have medical terms for, that some of the things they’re seeing, they’ve never seen before. They’re not in any of the books or any of the scientific literature that they have access to. She said it’s common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, baby’s being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye—really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects. And it is ongoing.

And she—lastly, to really give you an idea of the scope of the problem, is that this is happening now at a massive rate. And she said her being the only person cataloging and registering cases, with no help from Baghdad, who is denying that there’s some sort of problem like this in Fallujah—she said that she could probably safely estimate that the number of cases, as high as the rate that she’s seeing, could probably be doubled, because so many people are having their babies at home and just taking care of it. You know, most of these babies are being born dead, and then they’re not reporting it whatsoever. So, this is an ongoing crisis. And the rate has not increased since last year, but it’s not decreased, either. It was still—when I talked to her last year, it was 14 times greater rate of malformations in newborns as compared to the aftermath areas of the nuclear bombings in Japan, and it’s the same when I spoke with her about this one week ago.

I’m back. Dr Alaani told me that she is in dire need of diagnostic equipment. She doesn’t have any. And if you read the transcript I’m sure you can figure out why. The Iraqi government doesn’t want to know. And what do you think the U.S. government thinks? More on that in a minute…

First, this BBC (note, the BBC) clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLGeE558kPg that features the hospital in Basra, and the other doctor who asked me to help him to raise money for the families, the one who takes up a collection among the doctors for the families every month. I promised him that I would find a way to help. I need to live up to that promise.

As an American citizen, I am ashamed and disgusted and dismayed by the NON-response by our government. As the reporter says in the clip: “When we contacted the America Defense Department. They didn’t respond”. Well, isn’t that nice.

This piece was on Sky News in 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWKfV0VAi8M

2009! Where is CBS? NBC? Save the Children? Where in the hell is the US government?

I just can not let this go. I can’t. I got involved because those pictures moved me to tears and I naively thought that I would find all kinds of aid groups working with the families and raising money and helping the families and the doctors. I had no idea of the complete and utter abandonment that these people, the doctors and the families, are experiencing. This is a nightmare, caused by Bush and Cheney’s folly, and these babies are just the latest victims in a long line of victims. But they have no one to speak for them.

And now that the “10 year anniversary of the Iraq War is over”. the media will move on as well. Not that they noticed in the first place.

I want to speak for these babies. I need a name for my project. Nothing I can come up with does the project any justice. So I am thinking of calling it simply The Children of Fallujah and Basra Fund. (unless someone reading this blog can help me think of something better). I want to start a crowdfunding campaign like indiegogo. I need to figure out how to get the equipment and the money to Iraq. I need help and support. Please join me: those families need our help and support.

Peace,

Dawn

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We Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Program for an Important Message

This blog post is really different from any other I’ve written, well, except for the one on Thanksgiving, and maybe the one after the election, but not really. It’s ok, I totally understand and accept and am ok with the fact that many of my friends who happen upon my blog are mostly interested in my ramblings about my love of Paris and France and my trips there, and that’s really OK. I will always love Paris and France and will definitely blog about our upcoming June hopefully totally awesome vacation in the Basque country. So if you leave please come back!

Because this post is about my current passion, and it’s not so fun, but I’m driven and have been working hard and I need some help. So to those of you who want to continue to read please do, because I really need your help and support.  And if not, it’s ok, I will look forward to your thoughts on my Basque adventure.

But for now my mind is far away from Paris, it’s in Fallujah and it’s in Basra. My head is full of images of the babies. It has been this way ever since I saw this picture.

fallujah

Here is the link to the story that grabbed me.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/iraq-war-anniversary-birth-defects-cancer_n_2917701.html

And then there are these.

fallujah 4

fallujah 2

Here is an additional link if you want to get the full story

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/01/2012126394859797.html

The short story is that there has been a spike in birth defects and cancers in the cities in Iraq where there was the most intense fighting, Fallujah and Basra.  They’ve been seeing some really horrific, never before seen birth defects.  When I read that the current rate of birth defects for the city of Fallujah “has surpassed those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear attacks at the end of World War II.”, I was speechless. What can you say? This was news to me – no mainstream media has ever covered this. Do you remember seeing these pictures on the NBC/ABC/CBS News? No, me neither.

OK, so I saw this and heard this and cried, and thought ok, there has to be something that I can do, there has to be some group here in the US who is raising money to help these children and their families. Wouldn’t you think?  So I was all ready to offer my fundraising services to some really great group who was raising funds for these families. But, hours of research later, I was dismayed to find, well, very little.

One group I did find was the Justice for Fallujah Project. Started by a vet who was in Fallujah. What can I say to that? He’s awesome and gave me lots of information. Like, I’m correct in thinking that there’s very little being done for these families.  Politics. Cause you know, if the U.S. or Iraqi governments addressed the issue then they would have to admit that there’s a problem. Admission = responsibility. We’re not going there.

I’ve also been in touch with the journalist who was featured on the Democracy Now piece.  He put me in touch with the Doctor in Fallujah who is featured in the Al Jazeera piece above. This is what she wrote to me:

Thank you so much. The most important of our needs is the Ultrasound machine & the Karyotic system that help detecting congenital malformations  Chromosomal abnormalities in early fetal life,  in addition to the need to check the DNA , we have asked the help of many authorities , organizations & persons & didn’t yet get any response other than some few false promises … we appreciate all efforts to help our mothers & children….

OK, yeah. And then there’s the other doctor here in the states. She is an Environmental Toxicologist, based in MI. Here’s what she said to me:

Dear Dawn:

Thank you for your kind letter. My work is research and I have been trying to get funding to continue my work in Iraq. But I also know medical doctors in Iraq. Let me consult with them and reply to you. I know that the medical infrastructure is weak in Iraq in general. So, I will talk to my colleagues in Iraq and see what they say.

I received a reply from a doctor in Basra, who said this:

we are group of doctors related ro the general medical council non govermental.nonrelegios and we had nothing to with business and we collect 50 $ monthply from doctors to help these families.

That’s pretty much it, my people. This is where we stand. Ross, the guy from Justice for Fallujah Project, sent me some links to a few other organizations. There’s one that is doing some work raising some money for, from what I can tell, the hospital in Fallujah? But they’re really Christian-based, and I don’t want to be involved in a religious mission.

There’s also a group called No More Victims that has a model where communities “adopt” an Iraqi child and fly them over to the US for treatment. While I think that this is a noble effort, I also think that you can’t possibly fly every child out of Iraq. I want the money to go directly to the children’s families and to the doctors on the ground.

And finally, there’s a great group in the UK called the The Cancer and Birth Defects Foundation that has done some brave work for Fallujah. (http://www.thecbdf.org). But they are more about funding (much needed!!! ) research.  I asked Ross about the NGOs. And, as I suspected, not much happening for the families. And too much shady stuff.

I think I may need to create an organization. If I can’t find anyone out there that’s doing the work, then I will. I am thinking of doing some crowdfunding campaign, and a facebook page. I need a name for this. We did this,  all of us here in the US. With our tax dollars. I can’t accept it. I won’t.

So, there we are mes amis Pretty much square one. I need help – Ideas. Thoughts. Suggestions. Inspiration. Prayers. Help. Please. All ideas, suggestions, all welcome.

In gratitude. Dawn

UPDATE: Seems that the mainstream media may be clocking on. Here’s a link to ABC.com http://abcnews.go.com/Health/birth-defects-plague-iraq-10-years-us-invasion/story?id=18793428#.UVCjolfSyJQ

that mentions the Dr I heard from and her study (Mozhgan Savabieasfahani). But  note this telling quote from our friendly Department of Defense:

However, the U.S. Department of Defense believes the evidence is insufficient to determine whether war pollutants caused a rise in birth defects, said department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith. For example, researchers did not account for whether mothers had adequate nutrition or access to medical care during pregnancy, and they did not always consider whether the parents were cousins, she said.

“The studies have instead relied on the occurrence of conflict during specified years, and then presumed exposure of individuals to specific munitions,” Smith told ABCNews.com. “The studies have also presumed specific health effects from the claimed exposures without benefit of any scientific evidence proving the association of health effects with those exposures.”

Stay tuned.