" I did not look away "

" Hospitals specialising in cancer treatment have urged the Iraq authorities to replenish supplies because they say a shortage of essential medicines is putting the lives of thousands of patients at risk.

“Patients are dying from cancer because of a lack of medicines in public hospitals. Private pharmacies are selling the products but at very high prices, which cannot be afforded by poor families,” said Ibraheem Muhammad, a senior official at the Cancer Research Centre at the Ministry of Health.

“Indispensable drugs like methotrexate, largely used in breast [cancer], bone [cancer] and in certain cases of leukaemia; cyclophosphamide used in lung and breast cancer and lymphomas, as well as vindesine, used in all those cases, are seriously short in all hospitals in Iraq,” Muhammad added. “To make the situation worse for patients, some machines used for radiotherapy are broken, waiting for repairs.”

According to Muhammad, some wealthier patients are going abroad for treatment when they can get the visas but poor families are desperate as they cannot afford to be treated privately.
“Based on information received at our centre, at least 60 people have died from cancer in Iraq due to a lack of medicines in the past two months. Cancer in some patients can develop very fast if treatment isn’t available and if the situation continues, more cases are going to be reported in the coming weeks,” he noted.

Black-market dealers

Fua’ad Abdel-Razaq, an oncologist at Cancer Studies Hospital, in the capital, Baghdad, said black-market dealers can be found at hospital doors selling drugs for cancer treatment.

“In addition to the high prices, many of the drugs [sold illicitly] have already expired and desperate families buy them in an attempt to save the lives of their loved ones but thereby put the patients at high risk,” Abdel-Razaq added.
Based on information received at our centre, at least 60 people have died from cancer in Iraq due to a lack of medicines in the past two months.

The oncologist went on to say that in the past few months some local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) delivered many medicines to his hospital but none was suitable for cancer treatment.

"We were forced to send all the drugs to other public hospitals because they are not for treating cancer. For example, paracetamol cannot treat the pain of a cancer patient but morphine can, but it isn’t available,” said Abdel-Razaq.

Doctors at Basra’s Maternity and Child Hospital said about 20 new cancer and leukaemia cases are reported among children each month. “It pains us to see so many children appearing in our clinics suffering from cancer and especially as we know they will die because they’ll not be treated,” said Dr Ali Hashimy, an oncologist at the hospital. “If medicines are available we could save at least 70 percent of them.”

I bet you thought that was an article from the sanctions years. Wrong.
This IRIN article appeared yesterday and is dated 4th october 2007.

Every single Iraqi I meet tells me that the sanctions years appear like the "golden years" compared to what is now. The golden years. Can you imagine !?

The sanctions years were horrible years, but today's reality in Iraq is even more horrific. The above article attests to it. And this is nothing. The reality is far uglier than what is stated in the IRIN report.

Talking about the "golden years" of the sanctions, I remember how I lost an uncle because the hospital had no ink for the ECG and no X rays. Forbidden by the sanctions committee. He passed away from a lung and heart condition at age 54.
And how I lost another uncle due to cancer and there was no available medication and no morphine. Forbidden by the sanctions committee.

I also remember seeing little children with leukemia and other diseases queuing for days in the hope of getting treatment. Many of them died while waiting. I will never forget their faces nor their eyes. The despair, the fear and the eternal question marked all over them with WHY ? WHAT HAVE WE DONE ?

I will never forget the doctors, trying to be brave about it all and privately breaking down in tears...

How can I forget the " golden years "?

But today, hospital patients are dragged out of their beds and shot. Or they are left to die for lack of medication and treatment. If they are lucky to make it to a functional hospital that is and if they are lucky to find a doctor, the majority of which have fled the country. Do remember the brain drain of the Iraqi intelligentsia.

Who is to blame this time around ? Saddam Hussein and his WMD's ?

I can understand why the sanctions years are considered the "golden years" in comparison to today's Iraq.

But just to refresh your "collective memory" or should I say your "collective conscience ", assuming you have one of course. I want to share with you a wonderful piece of writing from someone who visited Iraq several times during those "golden years." His name is George Capaccio and this is what he had to say.

I Did Not Look Away

No, I did not look away

from the things I went there to see.

In a land where hunger had become rare

until sanctions and war joined hands in prayer,

I saw women in black begging at street corners

and boys too poor for school

hawking cigarettes and kerosene

to keep their families afloat.

I saw parents rushing into hospitals

with children in their arms,

and emergency rooms flooded with patients

holding in pain on bleeding floors.

I saw ambulances on cinder blocks

rotting away in a parking lot

because ambulances are weapons of war

and can't be repaired in Iraq.

I saw oxygen tanks standing in line,

waiting for valves that never come,

and hospital hallways stripped to the bone.

Everything gone, lugged off and sold

for even the simplest supplies --

a light bulb, a pail, a bag of diapers.

I saw an infant named Amani Kasim

curled up on a filthy blanket,

her face confined to an oxygen mask,

her body shriveled and discolored

from severe malnutrition.

I saw a fourteen-year old girl named Amira

who could not stand and could not speak

and was dying from cancer.

"Two maybe three days more," the doctor said.

"We do not have the proper drugs

so we give supportive care only."

She was so thin, so weak

she could not lift her head off the pillow.

I caressed her brow and cheek

and the damp ringlets of hair

fallen about her face.

A collapsed blood bag froze above her.

Mother and grandmother softly wept

and prayed to God for mercy.

I saw other mothers tending incubators,

that didn't have thermostats

and might overheat.

I saw the blood and urine

on beds without sheets,

the nimbus of flies around bottles of formula,

the sadness in the doctors' eyes

as they told me which infants

would live or die.

No, I didn't look away.

I caressed each brow,

whispered through my touch,

"Your life is a part of me and when you go,

I shall weep."

I saw a generation of mothers

keeping watch on their children.

I heard them ask me for medicine

and felt their hands open then meet

the emptiness of mine

This is only one piece. George has more to share about his experiences in Iraq. I just wish there were more people like George around. You can contact him at Georgecapaccio@verizon.net

Painting : Iraqi artist, AbdelAmeer Alwan.


Anonymous said…
george cappuccino sounds like a very warm hearted man.....i will be definitely be emailing him to find out more.....thanks for the link layla
YoUnicorn said…
Dear Layla

Thank you !
I will forward George Capaccio words to everyone and everywhere

IMHO you have not done anything
dear... no words ...no answers in my book dear Layla... the
evil, ignorance stupidity of the psycho-occupiers !!

Much love always.
Anonymous said…
Just too painful, Layla, both your thoughts and those of George. Bless him for seeing the Truth and writing about it.

Silent screams rising from the soul because of a crime (GENOCIDE) for which the entire world stands guilty - in its silence and indifference. Damn the US and all those who stand with it. I'm often asking myself these days if God really exists....

In solidarity and with love.
Layla Anwar said…
And more on the cholera epidemic :

"Cholera outbreak adds to misery in Iraq
Fatih Abdulsalam, Azzaman
October 5, 2007

Cholera is spreading quickly in Iraq and the number of cases and deaths is rising alarmingly. This contagious disease coincides with a host of other tragedies afflicting Iraqis.

Health ministry officials say they are certain the disease will keep spreading in the coming two months unless the government takes drastic measures to contain it.

But the steps the government has taken so far can only be described as hopeless, falling far short of the extent of the tragedy.

One official whose name we keep hidden was even not ashamed to announce that the country lacks necessary chlorine to purify drinking water. "We are in need of 150 million chlorine tablets to purify water until the end of this wear but we do not have that many," the official said.

It is so simple and easy for this government to declare its innocence. It thinks Iraqis are naïve and can believe its story.

As we wait for the pills the devastating disease might have afflicted and killed thousands of Iraqis. And where? In a country which is occupied and administered by the world’s most powerful state with a claim to human rights, democracy and transparency.

We realized that the ministry of health was for a long time something like a butchery run by murderous militias. But we thought that situation had ended with the flight of its minister to the U.S.

It seems little has changed since then. It is still an ineffective ministry, a paralyzed institution in a government though powerless insists on staying and holding the key to the future of the country.

Now that neighboring states have closed their borders, there is no way for the remaining millions of Iraqis to flee the cholera outbreak and the oppression of a government which cannot combat the disease.

Iraqis have no way to go and hide to escape the hell of the terrorist war the U.S. and Iran are waging on their soil.

What is happening in Iraq is horrendous and horrific at the same time with no precedent anywhere in the world. Is there a government which does not move a finger while a contagious disease is spreading and killing its own people? "

copied from Azzaman via URUKNET.INFO.
Anonymous said…
Jr is a MUPPET.
Angel said…
Hello Layla,

A apt description of the human face of misery that is Iraq.

Why can't the rest of the world see it this way? Blind and stupid.

In solidarity, Angel.
Anonymous said…
I'm gonna unseal this bottle just a little bit because I feel a few fundamental facets are amiss.
What is being done in iraq is is because
Much of the american political class is certifiably insane.
This is not a figure of speech.

These are folks who faced with the headlines of their own deeds,
massacres of iraqi thousands, torture scandals, white phosphosorus,
radioactive shells, dissociative psy-ops, etc, will simply squabble
about who wrote what memo, and who scandalized which government employee
because of a grudge over i don't know what. They'll squabble about
bureaucratic minutia that would drive the most inhuman Stalin-era
soviet system analysts crazy.

You see, they will not impeach for going against the naked democratic will of the entire world (even antarctic scientists') against hte war in iraq.
They'll impeach for leaking a memo that says someone is a CIA employee.
They will not impeach for the murder of two million iraqis, and upending
whatever status quo they themselves engineered ten years ago, without regard
to conscience or reason. But they'll impeach for say sacking a few
district attorneys who didn't kiss republican ass.

They'll hold endless sessions and cart in tons of documents to squabble
over whether a presidential veto on some bill will have violated some
arcane amendement to some constitutional law.

They are certifiably insane.

Then there is the other madness of some of the "smartest" among them. Indeed the ones who play the political class like puppeteers. They are also crazy. They have a monomania: destroy arabs.

It transcends israel, oil, leo strauss, huntington and all that jazz. It is a monomania. The kind that has seen film directors , magazine and encyclopedia editors of the same political and religious persuasion defame and demonize all things arab for the past 7 decades at least. it is a monomania that in the starkest analysis
is fueled by racial supremacism, an envy going back to the very Abrahamic depths of history, an indignation that after having manipulated the collective wills of all the monarchs and pompous shills of the western world, they have not been able to persuade or crush the arab mind , that stood almost uniquely against their zionist project.

It is the monomania of the modern jews, the masters of fiat money and by extension of every christian nation, against the arab muslims, whom they envy their long sedentary stability, their irrefutable religion, the very naive human innocence that once defined arab family value and arab resistance to zionist theft. They envy us all that. And now a lot of what arabs had is crumbling.
The family values are gone, the resistance to zionism and the jewish financial hegemon melting away.

Like some schmuck wrote the other day "if you liked Iraq, you'll love iran".
I'll also add that this is only the beginning for them (or for you, in case you are one of them just masquerading as an aggrieved arab woman, entrapping would-be sympathizers).

As you know they go into a place not to fight a war, but to foment one.
This is what they did to Iraqis. They targetted the holiest pilgrimages and shrines and festivals till they drove reason away from sane patient minds,
till they, the insane war makers, injected a primeval insanity into the hearts of iraqis that the previous day would have been marching side by side proclaiming unity in the face of foreign agression.

They are doing the same in lebanon. Always blaming a shill, the target of the destruction.

They have done the same in Sudan , and in Somalia and in Algeria. They are plotting
for the same in Egypt with not only tensions between muslims and christians being engineered but also between copts and other copts. There are entire infrastructures and histories of a shi'a community being manufactured in egypt , so that one day
egyptians wake up on the morning to find that they weren't just copts and sunnis after, lo and behold they also apparently have hundreds of thousands of shiites and other obscure sects.
They also plan the dissection of saudi arabia, and the isolation of the hijaz and the manning of the movement of the pilgrims.

These are all plans that have been talked about and discussed in seminars and workshops in the American Enterprise Institute, in JINSA in the offices of the RAND corporation and in the halls of teh american executive and legislative branches of government.

One "neo con", french by nationality no less, speaking before the AEI said Egypt is the jewel. It is to be picked after saudi arabia is dismembered.

I no qualms digging up the battered cliche, "you" or "we" "ain't seen nothing yet".

The only way out for arabs is mass conversion into christianity or a verifiable universal hedonism and collusion with the will of the american political class and their puppeteers.

There is no quelling the insane but by playing along. They are aware of this and they will push it as far as it goes.

Only a series of cataclysms can stop those plans, the way for instance the cataclysms of the mongol invasion and mameluk ascendency altered the course of the crusades,
upending both the shiite status quo in Egypt (the fatimid) and the abbasids in Iraq,
as well as sending the crusdaer state monarchs fleeing to their shitty dark hovel encircled castle in Europe.

The crusades left in lebanon the very seed of discord that still glowers in lebanon today. It is a handy fuse, and they are trying to light it since hariri died and a little before.

This time around , a 1001 years later, things are more complex. Perhaps the cataclysm needed in this round would involve God sending Christ himself to intervene
to stop the massacres.

Perhaps this cataclysm is reserved for a third round another 1000 years from now.

But short of such a cataclysm, there is no stopping what they have cooked up
for arabs in their "middle east".

The woman "sucking" on the water pipe in your post the other day might as well
go about her business without asking why dates and foodstuffs are no longer imported from iraq. I don't think it will make any difference that she asks why and finds out
and put down her shisha and cry or take up arms for all it matters.

It does not matter one bit.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...
Jr is a MUPPET.


so's your dad u sob
Anonymous said…
The woman "sucking" on the water pipe in your post the other day might as well
go about her business without asking why dates and foodstuffs are no longer imported from iraq. I don't think it will make any difference that she asks why and finds out
and put down her shisha and cry or take up arms for all it matters.

It does not matter one bit.


thank u 4 your cheerful contribution
Anonymous said…
God bless u wa yastur alaiki wa yahfidhaki ...im new to ur block but im so happy to find people like u with the voice we all should have ,but most of us, me included dont dare too, and so, our country got lost...we will never get it back unless we overcome the weaknesses inside us ...hoping that one day ill find my lost voice back..i wish u all the best, ma3 alsalama
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous no.1

Thank you for your comment. I have re-read it a couple of times as you obviously took the time to write it. And I read in between the lines too.
The first thing that strikes me is the overall defeatism or should I say defeatist tone.
Upon reading you, one is led to believe that the West and the zionists that lead them by the nose are God itself and therefore invicible and undefeatable.
Or should I say the anti-christ itself.
And therefore it does not surprise me one bit that one hopes and logically so, for Christ himself to intervene in some eschatological manner.
This deification of the West is actually at the ROOT of the problem. It is not only a political, cultural, and economic issue, it is a psychological one. Deeply embedded in the Arab psyche.
With all its ramifications...

In reading you, one is led to crawl back into a foetal position and wait for that savior.

Furthermore, the other thing that caught my attention and I assume that was deliberate on your part is when you said :

"(or for you, in case you are one of them just masquerading as an aggrieved arab woman, entrapping would-be sympathizers). "

Had I been a man, I am sure you would have not inserted such a parenthesis. And God forbid that an Arab woman should be aggrieved by anything or anyone. After all, according to your "analysis", the fall of " family values" really mean the " fall of the gater, tower keeper" of those values i.e women.
This has certainly given me food for thought for a post on Arab male perceptions of the Feminine.
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous no.2

Shukran jazeelan and welcome to my blog. And please dare to speak your mind. It is the silence that has killed us. Salam to you.
Layla Anwar said…
Angel, Yolla and Little Deer,

Hello and thanks as usual for the solidarity.
Anonymous said…
Man.. … the more I read the more I get sad… reading here just cant leave anyone without having tears..
its all just so horribly depressing….. goshh..…………….

Anyhow.. may Allah bring peace, freedom and strength to his believers!

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