Cri-sis (n.) 1. a situation or period in which things are very uncertain, difficult, or painful, especially a time when action must be taken to avoid complete disaster or breakdown 2. a time when something very important for the future happens or is decided.
When I retired as the "face" of the American anti-war movement in May, I had decided that my group, Camp Casey Peace Institute, would focus on changing the world one person at a time by becoming a humanitarian group: People for Humanity. After Congress gave George another blank check to continue the murder and mayhem in Iraq, we came to the conclusion that it would be better to focus on the people who have been harmed by American corporate imperialism than fight it at home. We decided that our first project would be helping the refugees who have been displaced by the violence and instability in Iraq.
Official figures and anecdotal figures place the number of humans who have fled Iraq to be between two and three million. One million are dead this time (two million in the barbaric sancions period of Clinton) and two million are refugees inside Iraq. Jordan and Syria have absorbed the brunt of this calamity for humanity, which came in the "wolf in neocon clothing" of "freedom." A recent New York Times article correctly identified that Iraqis with means fled to Jordan and the poorer refugees go to Syria.
Our trip must in no way be construed as condemnation or criticism of the governments of Jordan and Syria which are straining at the seams with an influx of new inhabitants who are putting a stress on the already scarce resources of that region. The six of us who traveled here to be witnesses to the crisis and to hear the stories of pain and hardship mixed with resiliency know who is to blame and who should bear the entire cost and who should be providing all support to the refugees inside and outside of Iraq: the government of the USA.
In speaking to refugees that I have met around the world and to the people who work with them here in Jordan, the one thing that the Iraqi people want is stability in their country. The refugee catastrophe is going a long way to destabilize the countries to which the Iraqis flee. If some kind of political stabilization with resulting increase in security doesn't happen in Iraq soon, then solving these issues will become increasingly difficult. Consequently, the first priority of our movements in the states should always be to end the occupation of Iraq.
However, emergency CPR needs to flow to Jordan and Syria immediately to help the Iraqi people and the two mentioned countries. Significantly, both countries also have vast populations of Palestinian refugees that has now become a generational problem. Solving the problems in Israel will help the Palestinian refugees who want the right of return to their homes as well as help solving our own "terrorism" problem at home. This is also an issue that needs to be pressed and exposed back in the states.
I am traveling with Kathy Murphy who is a member of GSFP (her brother, Patrick, was killed in Vietnam) and also works with Iraqi Health Now which sends medicines and medical supplies to hospitals in Iraq; Rev. Lennox Yearwood and Liz Havstad from the Hip-Hop Caucus; and Tiffany Burns and Dede Miller from GSFP and Camp Casey Peace Institute. Our first order of business was to meet with Noah and Natalie Merrill from Direct Action Initiative who have been working in Amman with refugees for a few months now and who provide money for emergency medical care and Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Non-violence and the Occupation Project who has been working with Iraqis since the devastating Clinton sanctions.
The crisis cannot be overstated or hperbolized. Iraqis in Jordan cannot work although there are jobs and Iraqis in Syria can work, but there are no jobs. CARE, Caritas and Save the Children have been working with UNHCR to try and help alleviate some of the needs, but it is not enough. America has given aid to UNHCR, but it is nowhere near enough.
Americans are the most generous people in the world when it comes to tsunamis, hurricanes or earthquakes around the globe, but Tsunami BushCo has swept over the Middle East with no hue or outcry. The people of Iraq are warm, caring human beings who are being either destroyed in their own country by the bloody violence brought to them by BushCo, or are in horrible situations outside their country caused by the same evil entity. It is time for we the people of America to stand more forcefully ourselves against the corporatocracy that hurts people and to reach deeply into our own pockets to give material assistance to our brothers and sisters who are suffering.
The first thing I saw when we landed in Amman was a man with a cardboard sign in his hands with "Blackwater" lettered on the sign. He was surrounded at that point by about a dozen burly American males intent on making their fortunes by the oppression of the Iraqi people. Our country is spending billions of dollars on destabilization, when about ten hours of the bloody occupation would go a long way to giving emergency CPR to the citizens of Iraq who have been able to run from the disaster for corporate profit.
Action must be taken today! Invading a country pre-emtively is a war crime. Not providing security, health care, education, food and clean water for the occupants of an occupied country is a crime against humanity. Please help the people of Iraq to let them know that the American public in general does not support or are not complicit in these crimes.
Please support the organizations who are helping and help us get the hearings in Congress we need to be able to force Bloody BushCo to clean up after themselves!
Direct Aid Initiative: www.electroniciraq.net Voices for Creative Non-violence: www.vcnv.org Iraqi Health Now: www.mysite.verizon.net/kathymurphypeace CARE: www.care.org (gives monthly stipends to refugees) Caritas: www.caritas.org (gives mostly medical help) Save the Children: www.savethechildren.org Camp Casey Peace Institute: www.thecampcaseypeaceinstitute.org Hip Hop Caucus: www.hiphopcaucus.org
Write or call your Congress rep to demand action.
This list is in no way meant to endorse anyone relief effort, or be comprehensive. There are many orgs working to help and I would suggest each person investigate this problem and decide what is the best workable solution on their own.