News & Politics

Letter From Iraq

An organization struggling to help civilian victims of war finds innocent families caught in the crossfire in Iraq.
Editor's Note: Marla Ruzicka, an extraordinary young woman who is well known to AlterNet editors, has been working tirelessly in Iraq to help the many innocent victims of the U.S. invasion. To help alleviate the terrible human suffering, Marla, a former Global Exchange staffer, started CIVIC, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding civilians harmed in conflicts around the world. By surveying the countryside and interviewing victims, CIVIC conducts an accounting of the human costs of war, while assessing the needs of the civilian population. The findings are then used to lobby governments for aid that will help victims rebuild their lives and communities. Marla sent us the following email on Wednesday morning.


As terrorists wreck havoc on life in Baghdad, innocent families are getting caught in the crossfire.

On the 24th of October, former teacher Mohammad Kadhum Mansoor, 59, and his wife, Hamdia Radhi Kadhum, 45, were traveling with their three daughters -- Beraa, 21, Fatima, 8, and Ayat, 5 years old -- when they were tragically run over by an American tank.

A small grenade was thrown at the tank, causing it to loose control and veer onto the highway, over the family's small Volkswagen. Mohammad and Hamdia were killed instantly, orphaning the three girls in the backseat. The girls survived, but with broken and fractured bodies. We are not sure of Ayat's fate; her backbone is broken.

CIVIC staff member Faiz Al Salaam monitors the girls' condition each day. Nobody in the military or the U.S. Army has visited them, nor has anyone offered to help this very poor family.

The only assistance from U.S. forces in Iraq is via the neighborhood Central Military Operations Center (CMOC). If the girls can get to their offices, their case will be filed and heard via a town council. This offers little hope for these girls, who are faced with immediate needs and a broken future.

The U.S. needs to have a clear procedure to respond to cases like Ayat's. CIVIC is working to try to establish such a system of assistance, but for now, the very least we can do to show our sympathy is to help Ayat and her sisters ourselves.

Thank you, and let's hope and pray for a peaceful Iraq.

To show your compassion, visit CIVIC and make a contribution or send a check to CIVIC/FCNL Education Fund, 245 Second St. NE, Washington, D.C. Feel free to contact Marla at [email protected], and please help spread the word.
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