Putting faces on “Collateral Damage”


The Bush administration says the war has been successful because so far there have been only 500 casualties. From our March, 24 2003 report on visits to the Yermouk and Al Kindy hospital trauma centers, where hundreds of wounded and maimed patients have been treated over the past five days, here are some of the success stories:

Roesio Salem, age 10 is from Hai Risal. She went to the entrance of her home and told shouted to her father, “Bomb coming!” at which point she was hit on the first day of the attack. She is 10 years old and has sustained severe chest injuries. We simply couldn’t take our eyes off of her as she gently smiled at us from her hospital bed.

Fatima 10 years old, from Radwaniya. She suffered multiple fractures when she and her family ran from their home, in an urban area, on Friday evening, March 21. A wall fell down and she suffered a fractured tibia. The family had no means of transport and had to wait until the next morning to get her to a hospital. Her father, Abu Mustafa, who works as a farm laborer, said, “We are like brothers and sisters to people in the
United States. We don’t attack American people. Please give this message to American people. This is an invasion, it has nothing to do with democracy.”

Ahmed Sabah, age 18, from the Al Zafrania district, was inside his home at
9:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20. He suffered multiple wounds and a fractured arm and leg from shell injuries. They have used an external fixator to set his compound fractures. His father asked us to show people in all countries that love peace that his son is a victim and not a criminal.

Hamed Kathem, age 20 sustained injury to his leg from shelling and arterial injury as well. He was in the courtyard of his home in El Biladiya on March 20. “We haven’t gone to the
US to hit them. They came here. Last night children were admitted to this hospital,” said Hamed. And then he simply asked, “Why?” “God save all the people,” said his father, quietly, “And God save all countries from this destruction.”

Khadem Wadi, age 63, of
Saddam City, was shopping for his family on March 23 at 5:00 p.m. when shrapnel punctured his intestine and wounded his leg. Two shells were removed from his abdomen.

Hosam Khaf, a 13 year old boy from Baghdad Jeddidah, was injured on Friday, March 21st at
9:00 p.m. He sustained a shell injury to his abdomen and now has a cholotomy bag. He is in great pain today. He lives in a multiple story building. As huge bombs exploded nearby, his family fled their flat. When he went into the street he was hit by shelling. His father, Abu Hosam, says that there are a military hospital and a military training facility 45 km away. “Most of the casualties are children, elderly people and civilians,” said Abu Hosam. What do they have to do with fighting and war?”

We felt some relief in being able to tell patients and their families that people in countries around the world are turning out for massive demonstrations against the war.

Each of these victims whose bedsides we visited today will lie still, hopefully recovering, with many hours to reflect on what has happened to them. Peace activists who continue to fill jails in the
US will likewise spend hours of confinement, pained by the cruel stupidity of warfare. Most of us are angry, very angry, - few of us can manage the genuine sweetness of little Ruba Salem whose gaze radiated easy affection in spite of her trauma,-- and yet I believe that we can channel our anger, our disappointment, our frustration and our rage into the kind of energy that will champion nonviolent resistance to the works of war, and an ever deepening desire for the works of mercy.

Kathy Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness and the Iraq Peace Team, a group of international peaceworkers remaining in
Iraq through the war