Eyewitness: Ghost city calls for help

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

BBC News | 13 November 2004

As US-led troops battle rebels in the Iraqi city of Falluja, aid agencies have warned that civilians are left with little food and no drinking water. The BBC News website spoke by phone to Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi journalist and resident of Falluja who reports regularly for Reuters and the BBC World Service in Arabic. We are publishing his and other eyewitness accounts from the city in order to provide the fullest possible range of perspectives from those who are there: "A family came to me last night, asking if I knew anywhere they could get hold of some food. When I mentioned that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had died, they were shocked. "It's a conspiracy," they said. "They have killed him so that his death overshadows our plight in the news." When people in Falluja feel the world is not interested in their fate, they start asking if the media is doing its job. A father who lost two children in the bombing wanted to know if everything I was reporting was actually being broadcast. Mosque risk This city smells of explosives and decaying flesh. It is a ghost town. In between the fighting, there are periods of absolute, eerie silence. Many of the people have fled. The streets are empty, as are a lot of houses. For those that are still here, the vacant houses left behind by the refugees can themselves become a refuge - a place to go when their own neighbourhoods are under bombardment. I have lost track of the days of the week. I barely realised when Friday came and went. Of course, there was no question of going to the mosque. All the mosques are now targets because they have been used by both sides in this conflict, the fighters and the US forces. Elusive figures With no fresh food coming in, those people that are still here have been surviving on a diet of dates. US soldiers hold much of Falluja by day. The night belongs to the fighters. Under cover of darkness, they regroup and receive fresh weapons and ammunition. They are elusive figures. I have seen them in action, firing mortars and grenades at American troops. Anyone who moves around at night is a target. The fighters can shoot you if they mistake you for an American. The Americans, who leave some snipers behind in the city every night, will get you if they think you are a fighter." _____________________ Other interviews with Fadhil Badrani: Smoke and corpses Defiance amid carnage Watching tragedy engulf my city Taking cover in Falluja Prayers and tears in Falluja Inside besieged Falluja Translation from Arabic by Reda El Mawy and Jumbe Omari Jumbe of bbcarabic.com