UPDATE: Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project,
September 19, 2005
By Art Dorland, Chairman
For those of you who rush to this website before picking up your daily New York Times, please forgive us that we haven’t posted anything for quite a while. Little known to the world, the work of the Iraq Water Project has been going on quietly and invisibly, like termites in the basement.
Due to ever increasing chaos gathering around the American---sorry, “coalition”---occupation of Iraq, it has been over a year since IWP funded its last water plant reconstruction, the Hai al-Risala plant at Falluja. Trying to collect information about this and other facilities we have helped rebuild has been a difficult and time-devouring chore. You are probably aware that LIFE for Relief and Development, our courageous and invaluable partner in this work, had its office destroyed in the US assault on Falluja last year (details elsewhere on this website). Struggling to reopen, the office is at this writing temporarily closed due to an extreme threat level of violence surrounding the approach of Ramadan. Additionally, the LIFE Basrah office engineer was recently arrested and taken somewhere unknown by authorities equally unknown. Just another day in the fascinating life of the new American-version Iraq. You get the picture.
Nevertheless, LIFE has managed to send us an assessment and cost estimate of the Hamden Jissr plant at Abul Khaseeb, a treatment facility repaired in 2001 as a part of the first phase of the Iraq Water Project. Since that time no further work has been done at this aging plant and like any other piece of old machinery it has fallen once again into barely operating dereliction. This gives you a good indication of how vast is the task of reconstructing Iraq’s infrastructure (the country has 1400 water treatment plants), and of how extensive and cruel was the damage done to Iraq’s people by eleven years of US-UN imposed economic sanctions. When visited last year by IWP member Cherie Clark, the water at Hamden Jissr was unfit even for washing clothes. IWP hopes to make a difference once again for the people of Hamden Jissr.
Previous to receipt of this report our project was investigating the possibility of repairing---for the third time---the Hai al-Risala water plant at Falluja, initially restored in 2002 and then damaged twice in subsequent US assaults on the city. At the recent Veterans for Peace convention in Dallas, the IWP committee voted unanimously to make Falluja our first priority, as that is where the United States has done the most direct physical damage, so far. Reports from Falluja indicate that very little reconstruction aid has reached the city from either its government (“”) in Baghdad or the occupation authority, in spite of the ever-truthful Mr. Bush’s shining promise of a new city. When LIFE’s engineer reached the Risala plant to do an assessment, he found it had already been repaired by the people of Falluja out of their own pockets. The civilian victims of the US attack are made to restore their city’s fundamental services themselves. Hey, it’s just like Wolfowitz promised: this reconstruction won’t cost the American taxpayer a nickel.
LIFE for Relief and Development is taking a look at two additional Falluja water plants for possible reconstruction. If one of these would fall within the IWP funding contours, it is possible we might put that plant ahead of Hamden Jissr, for the reason mentioned above. People are in need all over Iraq, so it is no easy thing to choose one place to work and let another go. Who gets pulled aboard the lifeboat, and who is left to drift?---you always hope you do the right thing.
This website update should be replaced by a firm announcement of our next project water plant soon. We thank everybody for their support and their patience. Wage peace.