Middle East Council of Churches

Unofficial news from the Middle Eastern Christian Ecumenical organization.

Maintained by Tom Scudder

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Saturday, April 19, 2003
Brief note: Rev. Nuhad Tomeh tells me that Edward Ishu, MECC's coordinator in Mosul, is alive and well and was in contact with the Beirut office on Thursday. He got there before the situation became unsettled, and although there has been some looting there, it's not as bad as in Baghdad. MECC will try and get some more relief supplies to Mosul via the Syria-Mosul road next week, following a few shipments that made it in via the same route last week.
posted by Tom at 1:55 PM

(Beirut) Daily Star: Mideast wars: a humanitarian view by Peter Gubser:

Wars invariably have negative impacts on civilian populations. The war in Iraq and the violent conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories are not exceptions. People have been killed and injured in great numbers. Food, water, and health care are scarce or non available for various reasons, severely degrading the welfare of children, women, and men. To examine these general observations, I will review three specific situations and suggest how they should be addressed. First, the international media have vividly shown us that the people of Iraq are suffering from this war. Because various electricity grids and generators are not functioning, they lack potable water and an operating sewage system. The United Nations’ food distribution system that reached over 60% of the people before the war, no longer operates and people are becoming increasingly hungry. Looters have stripped many hospitals and health care providers are not able to access these institutions, depriving people of normal health services. And ordinary policing has broken down, raising security concerns for families, shopkeepers, and other businesses.


Second, fortunately during this war we did not witness a flow of refugees from Iraq to its neighbors. Admirably, Iraq’s neighbors were well prepared to receive refugees. Camps with shelter and food were ready in Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, the border of Turkey, and Iran. The international community contributed to this contingency preparation.

Unfortunately these contingencies must be kept in place for the next few months, at the least. Why? It is entirely possible that civil strife could break out in Iraq, resulting in a flow of refugees in the tens or hundreds of thousands.


Third, the war in Iraq and the dramatic and heart-rendering suffering of the Iraqi people, should not divert us from the necessity for forceful attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It too is dramatic and people are suffering. Since September, over 2200 Palestinians and 700 Israelis have lost their lives. About 22,400 Palestinians and 4800 Israelis have been injured. Equally important, over 30% of Palestinian children suffer from acute or chronic malnutrition which means these young people will not fully develop mentally or physically.

posted by Tom at 1:12 PM

Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: Easter Message 2003 from Bishop Riah abu el-Assal
Peace from God, the Father and creator of all mankind, and love and greetings from the city of the Resurrection, from Jerusalem. My prayer for each and everyone of you is that you be empowered by the Spirit of the Risen Lord, and that the peace and joy that came from Him who defeated death by dying, Jesus Christ, the first risen from the dead, may be yours and your dear ones throughout the coming days and years.

Christians in many parts of our Global Village celebrate what they call EASTER. Reference is made in our church calendars to EASTER DAY, EASTER MONDAY, EASTERTIDE and the like. Arab Christians in Jerusalem, in Palestine, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the rest of the Arab countries refer to it as the “Feast of the Resurrection.” Whereas some refer to the site of the crucifixion as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we name it “Kanisat Al-Qiyamah”, the Church of the Resurrection.

It is neither the holiness of the Sepulchre, nor its emptiness that matters most in our faith! It was, and is, and will be: THE RESURRECTION, the first Risen from the dead, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.


It is this faith in the Risen Lord, in the Resurrection that causes us, in these most trying and difficult times, to stand firm and never compromise our convictions in the ultimate victory of good, of justice, of love, of peace, of reconciliation, of joy and of life.

posted by Tom at 10:38 AM

UN IRIN (via ReliefWeb): Iraq: Water convoy finally reaches the south
BASRA, 18 April (IRIN) - A convoy of water that has been waiting at the Iranian border for three days has finally made it into southern Iraq. Eleven trucks carrying 5,100 jerry cans each containing 20 litres of potable water crossed the Shalamcheh border between the two countries late on Friday morning.

Speaking from the Iranian capital, Tehran, a spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Marc Vergara, attributed the long delay to "bureaucracy".

It was now hoped that by Friday afternoon the convoy would make it to the Al-Faw Peninsula in southern Iraq, which has received no water assistance since war broke out a month ago. The convoy was originally due to have crossed into Iraq on Tuesday.

The water will be delivered to hospitals and health services, as well as to the general population of 10,000 to 15,000. Vergara said it was hoped that the convoy would mark the start of a two-pronged aid approach to southern Iraq, with supplies coming in from Iran as well as Kuwait.

posted by Tom at 10:24 AM

Church World Service (via ReliefWeb): Third "All Our Children" shipment reaches Baghdad's outskirts; Is being distributed in the city little by little as security allows
AMMAN, JORDAN -- A third "All Our Children" shipment of medical components to assist Iraqi children made it safely to the outskirts of Baghdad and were unloaded to a secure storage facility for distribution in small batches to pediatrics hospitals in the city as security allows.

Church World Service and its partners in the "All Our Children" initiative provided $50,000 for this shipment, which includes 32 wheelchairs, 600 blankets and 800 bedding kits -- a total of three tons of supplies.

The shipment went overland from Amman, Jordan, in one of three trucks that were part of a convoy of goods to be distributed in Baghdad by the non-governmental French humanitarian organization Première Urgence.

posted by Tom at 10:21 AM

(Beirut) Daily Star: Maronite Patriarch makes plea for unity in Good Friday sermon by Hanna Khoury:
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir called Friday for Lebanese to close ranks and seek the country’s interests, saying everyone is in the same boat and that, if it sinks, “we will all drown.”

Referring in his Easter message to US plans for the region, the prelate said constant vigilance is required and that people must “work together to advocate peace.”

Sfeir recalled that the foundations of peace were four-fold, as outlined in a message by the late Pope John XXIII 40 years ago entitled Peace on Earth.

The four bases are truth, freedom, justice and love, without which there can be no peace, Sfeir added.

posted by Tom at 10:12 AM

Friday, April 18, 2003
Oxfam: Photos from Iraq taken by John Cosgrave during a UNICEF-led assessment trips into Iraq between 3 and 16 April, 2003.
posted by Tom at 12:47 PM

Catholicosate of Cilicia: Aram calls for religions to work together for peace:
In his Easter message addressed to the Heads of Churches and religious leaders, His Holiness Aram I made a strong call to work for peace. He said: “Working for peace means working for justice; working for peace means struggling for human dignity and reconciliation; working for peace means achieving a quality of life where spiritual and moral values are given concrete expressions; working for peace means developing a model of society where God’s diversities are respected and enhanced. The world needs a peace that is sustained by these values and this vision”.

Emphasizing the crucial importance of dialogue Aram I said: “War is not a means to resolve conflicts. Dialogue is the way to restore peace”.

In a message addressed to Church leaders His Holiness Aram I said: “As we spiritually prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, let us renew our commitment to “work for peace” in a world torn apart by injustice and violence, poverty and war”.

posted by Tom at 12:43 PM

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem: Easter Message by Patriarch Michel Sabbah (also in Arabic and French):
Our message to our leaders in this holy land is the following: you are elected to bring peace and security, and therefore to follow the ways that bring peace and security. The ways followed so far did not achieve peace and security, neither to the Israeli nor to the Palestinian people. You, too, listen to what God says. He says peace and justice go together. Change your ways. Take away the fear from your people's hearts. Believe that the peace is possible and that the Palestinians are capable of living in peace once their freedom and their rights are given back to them.

We celebrate Easter. It means the passage from death to life, from slavery to freedom. I wish to all Christians and to all Palestinians to pass from the present death to a new life, based on a reacquired freedom, on justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation. I wish to the Jewish people celebrating Passover to pass from the present situation of fear to security, based also on justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation. A new world order should have the same bases: justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation. Without forgiveness and without God’s presence among men, death will lead only to death, and war will only produce war and terrorism. One cannot; under any pretext, build a new world order while starting with the demolition of the human person in it.

Christ is risen. Yes, He is risen indeed. To all of you I wish an Easter of peace, justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation.

posted by Tom at 5:07 PM

ReliefWeb roundup:

posted by Tom at 4:56 PM

ReliefWeb and Refugees International: Defusing an ethnic time bomb in northern Iraq:
The collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime has left coalition forces scrambling to restore order in a nation suddenly bereft of the instruments of government. In central and southern Iraq, this has meant detaining looters, securing safe passage for aid trucks, and working to repair damaged utilities. In northern Iraq, where ethnic tensions are already erupting in violence, the task will be more daunting still and the stakes extraordinarily high.

Northern Iraq is home to a mixed population of Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians and Arabs. During Saddam's rule, it was also home to a program of ethnic cleansing referred to as "Arabization," under which an estimated 600,000-800,000 Kurds were forced from their homes in Kirkuk, Mosul and the surrounding countryside. As they fled, Arab Iraqis were offered incentives to settle in their place. Many Kurds have been waiting years to return to their homes. With the fall of Saddam, the opportunity has finally arrived.

With no organized process in place to accept returnees or settle property disputes, however, the two populations have been left to handle matters themselves. Since the fall of Mosul, at least 40 civilians have died as a result of ethnic violence, and more than 2,000 Arab Iraqis have fled their homes, either due to force or fear. With no police or peacekeeping force in place and more than 70,000 heavily armed Kurdish peshmerga roaming the area, the potential for these pockets of violence to spread is high.

posted by Tom at 4:47 PM

ReliefWeb and Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq: Hearts and Minds: Aid and reconstruction in Iraq:

This briefing examines some of the political, financial and operational problems surrounding the provision of aid, and the project of reconstruction in Iraq. In particular, it focuses upon the difficulty in striking a balance between the US and the UK fulfilling their responsibilities to provide aid and assist in rebuilding, and their control of the process to the detriment of its effectiveness.

The politicisation of relief complicates the provision of aid, and may yet scupper the effective reconstruction of Iraq. At its worst, using humanitarian aid as a political or military tool to woo the 'hearts and minds' of the Iraqi population risks prolonging suffering, entrenching unilateralism, and reducing the willingness of states to contribute towards the rebuilding of Iraq.

Read the whole thing. As good a summary of the political and operational difficulties surrounding the rebuilding of Iraq as I've seen.
posted by Tom at 4:37 PM

Action by Churches Together: Lack of security hampers aid efforts by Dominic Nutt:
Kuwait City, April 16, 2003

The lack of security in southern Iraq continues to hamper relief efforts, according to ACT member Norwegian Church Aid (NCA).

Arve Danielson of NCA, an electrical engineer, and colleague Thor Valla, a water specialist, have been seconded to work for UNICEF in and around the port town of Um Qasr and Basra.

The team, based in Kuwait City, just south of the Iraqi border, have been delivering water to beleaguered communities and are working to restore water pumping stations in a program part-funded by Christian Aid.

Mr Danielson said: "The need is great. So far we have only been able to get to Um Qasr but we are slowly moving towards Basra."


The NCA team hopes to move into Iraq permanently in the coming weeks and use Kuwait as an administrative base and as a staging post for equipment. "We are wasting a lot of time driving back and forth each day," said Mr Danielson. "We will move into Iraq as soon as it is safe to do so."

posted by Tom at 4:35 PM

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Action by Churches Together: Situation Report, Iraq:

Nothing really quotable, but a good general overview of who's doing what.
posted by Tom at 11:07 PM

Apologies for the lack of posts, we're in the final push for the next issue of NewsReport.

In the meantime, go read Christian Aid's Middle East spotlight, where they've got 4 new feature articles and a new update.
posted by Tom at 10:58 PM

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Catholicos Aram Meets with Hezbollah representatives:
The need to give a renewed manifestation to Christian-Muslim coexistence was the major topic of a meeting that took place in the Catholicosate between the representatives of the Catholocosate and a delegation, representing the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. This meeting was part of a series of meeting taking place in the last few days with all Lebanese communities by the initiative of the Hezbollah movement aimed at the strengthening the internal unity of Lebanon. Both parties emphasized the importance of Christian- Muslim dialogue in the Middle East in general and in Lebanon in particular. At the end of the meeting His Holiness Aram I said: “The Christian- Muslim dialogue coexistence and collaboration are not new phenomenon in this region. They are deeply rooted in the history of the Middle East. Dialogue doesn’t mean compromise or resignation. It means accepting each other and respecting each other the way we are. Yet it is important that we identify together common ethical and social grounds where we can act together. The area of justice and peace and combating violence and terrorism is a critical one, where I believe that Christians and Muslims should work together” in his statement His Holiness emphasized the need “of building bridges of communication and interaction to promote mutual understanding and common good”.

posted by Tom at 11:07 AM

Aid to Iraq and Iraqis via Damascus:

Samer Laham passed along news (previously mentioned on the MECC Web Site) of a Greek organizaiton, "Doctors of the World", which passed through Syria en route to Iraq to share two trucks of medical supplies along with their expertise. He also sent along a picture (above) of Iraqi refugees inside Syria receiving MECC-donated food packages.

Also, via ReliefWeb comes this story: En route to Baghdad, a Moroccan medical team arrives in Damascus:

DAMASCUS, April 14 - A 13-member Moroccan medical team arrived here Monday en route to Iraq to convey a medical assistance to the Iraqi people.

The assistance drive was coordinated by the Moroccan Medical Committee for Backing to Iraq, the Red Cross Committee and the Médecins Sans Frontières Association.

The team includes six surgeons, two chemists and five nurses. The team members said they will stay in Iraq the necessary time that it will take to help the victims of war in Iraq.

posted by Tom at 11:03 AM

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan: Who Will Roll This Stone Away? - Easter Message by Bishop Munib Younan (via WFN):
We as Palestinians have suffered for a long time under military occupation. Now and then we have had a glimmer of hope but soon realized we are still living under occupation. We feel like our Lord, who also suffered injustice at the hands of world powers. We feel now as if there is more suffering, more death, more destruction than before. We do not see that our situation will be healed soon. What can I say to people whose houses have been demolished in the Gaza Strip and in Ramallah and Tulkarm and Jenin? What can I say to a mother who has lost one of her children? What can I say to a man who has lost his job and cannot provide food for his hungry family? What can I say to parents who are maltreated at checkpoints as they try to go to work? What can I say to people who have to live with newly built fence that is eight meters high and must stay behind that fence? What can I say when I see that hatred is deepening due to all these circumstances, and the spiral of violence is increasing? We Palestinians cry out with the Marys and Salome, WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THIS MASSIVE STONE?

As I watch the Israeli society and how people live in fear, I see that their fear drives them to impose harder and harder security measures upon Palestinians. When I see the fear of Israelis and their reactions to it, I sometimes ask in my naivety, "Why can't they be serious in ending the occupation by themselves and thereby live in security with their Palestinian neighbors?" But sadly, it seems their fear is also deepening and this causes even more insecurity. This is the reason the Israelis also wonder and ask, WHO WILL ROLL THIS STONE AWAY?


As Palestinian Christians we need at this time of difficulty and hopelessness to remain as bridge builders even though the atmosphere and the odds make it seem impossible. We need to continue our insistence on dialogue among religions and continue to build more understanding among the cultures and civilizations. We need to teach the world to respect others and accept the otherness of the other. At the same time we need to be brokers of building a just peace in the Middle East where Palestinians and Israelis can live in their viable states, side by side, peacefully, justly and equitably. This vision for peace must never end, and Jerusalem, the city of the Resurrection, must be the mother of the two nations and three religions. This vision also extends to other countries in the Middle East, that they may also have their sovereignty on their land, to have their self-determination, and their opportunities to build their own
civil societies.

The Palestinian Christian Church proclaims a message which is very different from the world's message. We cling to Christ and to the very real hope of his presence among us and the future hope of seeing all the stones rolled away. God's love poured out upon us is like a flood of grace. Every day we are swimming in that grace, thoroughly soaked in the love of God in Christ. That is how we are able to continue day by day in the midst of what the world would call a hopeless situation.

The good news of Jesus' resurrection is just too good to keep to ourselves. God's Holy Spirit empowers us to shout forth the wonderful news -- Christ is Risen! We will not permit war or occupation to divide us. We will not permit human tragedies or spiral violence that creates hatred to take away our hope and joy in the Resurrection.

posted by Tom at 10:43 AM

Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: Update on Al Ahli Hospital and St. Philip's Church:
GAZA CITY – St. Philip’s Chapel remains in shambles more than two months after Israeli soldiers bombed the church in the Al Ahli Arab Hospital complex, with repairs estimated at some $25,000. However, hospital officials already have repaired windows of surrounding hospital buildings, and donations for church repairs keep coming.

It’s all a matter of picking up the pieces – a process that the hospital, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, knows only too well in this war-torn region.

“We are grateful to all our friends who keep paying for us and who also give us a hand of help,” hospital director Suhaila Tarazi said. “Hand in hand, we will continue to do God’s work in this area.”

Every day, the hospital contends with Intifada-related violence and military checkpoints as it aims to serve Gaza residents, Tarazi said. Fears of a full-scale Israeli invasion on the Gaza Strip have not been realized, but neither has the situation improved, according to hospital officials.

posted by Tom at 10:34 AM

Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: Palm Sunday Sermon by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, given at St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem:
At the beginning of Holy Week, we stand with Jesus before the gates of a city. We know that once we have entered we shall be swept up in events that we cannot control and that will bring us to the very edge of what we can bear, as we walk with him to Calvary and the tomb. This week tells us that God is able to change everything about us – our fear, our sin, our guilt, our untruthfulness. But to receive that change in the actual circumstances of our lives asks of all of us such a revolution in our hearts that we are stunned and frightened at the thought. ‘In his death is my birth, in his life is my life’, as the song says; but the new birth is for us a kind of dying too. Remember this morning’s epistle: ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus’.

As believers and as human beings, we stand at the gates of the city – a ‘city of wrong’ as one great Muslim writer called it in the title of his fictional meditations on the last week of the Lord’s life; a city where so many sufferers are silenced and where so many innocent on both sides of the terrible conflict are killed and their deaths hidden under a cloak of angry, selfish, posturing words, whatever language they are spoken in. We know that in this city, trying to live by faith, hope and love leaves us looking pretty helpless. And we also know in our hearts that so much of what fuels the violence is in ourselves too: the passionate longing never to be a victim again, the hunger for security expressed in the ownership of the land, the impotent near-mindless fury that bursts out in literally suicidal ways, and brings destruction to so many. We know the urge to defend what can’t be defended because we can’t lose face; the urge to make a dramatic gesture that destroys the future because we need to feel that we can do something. We too are citizens of this city of wrong.

Jesus does not steer us away from the gates and send us back into the holy silence of the desert or the peace of the countryside. He keeps us close to him as we stand at the gates, and he tells us that these are also the gates of heaven. If you recognise your involvement and prepare to walk with Jesus into the city, to the cross and the tomb, there is a joy and a mystery at the end of the path, because it is inexhaustible divine love that walks with us. We stand not just at the gates of the city of wrong, the great city where the Lord was crucified, as revelation says, but also at the entrance to the Garden of Eden.

posted by Tom at 10:30 AM

Monday, April 14, 2003
WFN: Archbishop of Canterbury's Pastoral Letter to the Middle East:

And now, with the repercussions of military action in Iraq still echoing around the region, new fears have been aroused in the hearts of many. Yet Christ says, fear not to his disciples. We can only hear this by taking a risk; we can only say it in his name by taking a risk. This Easter, we pray, for the sake of the whole region and the whole world, that those who hold power may know how to take the risk of giving it away for the sake of greater peace; and that those who have no power may take the risk of stepping out of helpless resentment into something new. And we pray very specially that God will touch the hearts of all our leaders, in the Holy Land and in the wider world, so that they will feel strong enough for such a risk. Only so will the power of the resurrection be once again visible among us.

posted by Tom at 8:53 AM

ICRC: April 12-13 Report

The report focuses on an assessment of Baghdad's main hospitals. It isn't ALL bad news:

Al Karama General Hospital: This 500-bed hospital had been protected from looting by the civilian population, though ambulances had been stolen. However, patients were deterred from coming by the prevailing insecurity. The hospital's main need was for protection. It also lacked oxygen. While Al Karkh Hospital was being looted, a team from Al Karama Hospital went there to recover whatever was left and to keep it safe on their premises. This equipment will be sent back as soon as possible, once Al Karkh starts functioning again.


Alwiya Children's Hospital: This 125-bed hospital, the main pediatric medical facility in Baghdad, had been protected from looting by the presence of armed medical staff living in the hospital. The wards were closed, but some 100 consultations per day were being performed for out-patients. The staff were defending the hospital with courage and conviction. They definitely need protection and additional personnel. Some paediatric drugs were lacking.

Ibn Nafis Hospital: This was one of the few hospitals still functioning in the Iraqi capital. The existing team had been increased in number by several surgeons from looted hospitals. Fifty operations had been performed during the past three days. Since Friday, 11 April, US forces had been protecting the hospital, which has become a key facility. Non-medical services, such as cleaning, were very poor.

posted by Tom at 8:51 AM

Oxfam: Oxfam sees need, hope during UNICEF mission in southern Iraq by Alex Renton, Oxfam - Amman
"This is the first water we've had out of this tap in 17 years," said the doctor in Umm Qasr's hospital. He was overjoyed at the result of a United Nations Childrens' Fund (UNICEF) water-trucking project that's bringing fresh water daily from Kuwait to hospitals and the people of parched southern Iraq.

But as Oxfam water engineer John Cosgrave accompanied UNICEF colleagues further into Iraq on Sunday's assessment mission, it was quickly apparent that these 20 water tankers a day are just a drop in a desert of need.

"In Zubayr (a town of 500,000 people just south of Basra) we found that there's no piped water at all at the moment. The crucial booster stations that keep pressure up so water gets to taps have all been looted and currently aren't functioning. So rehabilitating them will be one of our first projects," Cosgrave said. For people who cannot afford to buy water in the town, the alternative is dirty water possibly contaminated by sewage.

posted by Tom at 8:43 AM

Sunday, April 13, 2003
ICRC: Update, April 12:
[dated April 11] Medical City complex: There are four hospitals in this complex, which until recently was the hospital showpiece in Baghdad with 1,400 beds for war-wounded and all medical specializations available.

On 8 April, ambulances were arriving at the complex one after another and hundreds of patients were admitted. The ICRC medical coordinator had visited the triage and emergency centre, which could handle 100 patients at any one time, and found that that the complex was a perfect example of mass casualty management.

On 11 April, it was in total chaos. Part of it had been looted before the protection of the Coalition forces was put in place. The triage and emergency units were completely disorganized. Because ambulances were being looted throughout the city, there was no ambulance service. No new patients were being admitted. Only a few surgeons and one or two nurses were present in the hospitals, each with 600 beds. There were no administrative, cleaning or kitchen staff. And there were still 300 patients to care for.


Water and sanitation

The widespread vandalism of hospitals and some water supply systems, in addition to the previous damage and shortages resulting from military operations, has made it even harder for health and water professionals to keep essential public services running. With continued power cuts for more than a week throughout the capital, and the direct or indirect impact of vandalism, new critical needs have emerged. The Baghdad water authorities (BWA) have reported the loss of all their assets and warehouse materials, including all spare parts, vehicles and other equipment. On 11 April, only two technicians and one contractor showed up at the delegation, as the others stayed at home to protect their property from looters. Nevertheless, the ICRC team resumed their general needs assessments and emergency engineering work at the Medical City hospital complex.

Major water treatment plants are operational at about 40-50% of their normal capacity, but thanks to low demand (no demand from industry, etc.) this may be enough for the time being to cover the Baghdad inhabitants' basic needs if the plants are not vandalized. However, the Rasafa area in Baghdad remains a prime concern, since it is no longer supplied with tap water. Most tankers of the water transport contractors hired by the ICRC to serve that and other areas have been looted and most of the water bladder tanks and distribution ramps installed earlier by the ICRC are gone. The ICRC team made a rapid assessment of the Qana water pumping station supplying that part of the city, and one priority will now be to get it and the connected water treatment works back into operation to bring clean water back to Rasafa.

An important meeting was held at the ICRC delegation with the three most senior BWA staff and the US civil affairs coordinators to discuss the present water and power situation in Baghdad and how BWA professionals can be brought in to restore essential water services in the days ahead. The ICRC played a key role in making this first contact possible. The BWA and the US military agreed on priority action to be taken, especially the immediate military protection of key water treatment works. As a direct result of this meeting, one of the largest waterworks in Baghdad, Saba-Nissan, has been protected since 11 April by US forces and repair and maintenance work will be resumed immediately, together with Baghdad water authority technicians. Consequently, for most parts of Baghdad the risk of water shortages should be avoided.

The meeting also agreed on a list of main water installations to be protected by US forces within the next few days. Further measures will be discussed and implemented shortly for the city of Baghdad and the Baghdad governorate.

posted by Tom at 8:54 PM

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan: Prayer for Holy Week by Bishop Munib Younan:
April 8, 2003

Salaam and grace to you from Jerusalem, the city of Christ's death and

At this time of difficulty and hopelessness throughout the world, we in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCJ) invite you to join us in Palestine,
Jordan and Israel as we bring the following petitions to our Lord in our
prayers during Holy Week 2003.

Gracious God,

We pray for those who have lost hope and live in hopelessness, that their
faith and hope may be restored.

We pray for those who believe in the culture of coercion, that God may
change their hearts so they may believe in a culture of negotiation and

We pray that the war in Iraq will be halted so that the blood shed may end.

We pray for the Palestinian people - the children, young people, women and
men - people who live under military occupation, that they may see the
promise of God in the liberation of Christ's death on the cross.

We pray for the liberation of Israeli people from their fear and insecurity
so they may understand that by ending the military occupation they liberate
themselves as well as the Palestinians.

posted by Tom at 8:49 PM

Christianity Today/Ecumenical News International: As Baghdad Falls, Agencies Brace for Flood of Work by Rainer Lang in Amman, Jordan:

News of the fall of Baghdad blared loudly from the television in the bustling lobby of the Hotel Intercontinental. Journalists who had made the hotel their home for the first weeks of war crowded the room as they left for the Iraqi capital.

Aid agencies in the Jordanian capital saw it as a signal that the time for them to spring into action was drawing closer after weeks of fighting had kept them tied down.

Only hours before, in the meeting room of the Middle East Council of Churches' Amman offices, staff members stared in disbelief at TV images of American troops entering the centre of Baghdad without a fight, then expressed relief that the war was, basically, over.

The streets of Amman were quiet when the initial news broke that Baghdad had fallen. A taxi driver named Kurdi was thankful there was no battle for the city of Baghdad, fearing the bloodshed that would have come from street fighting. "We need peace in the region," the Jordanian said.

The relief was also felt in neighboring Syria. At St Mary's Syrian Orthodox monastery, an Iraqi family, who had been stranded at the monastery when the war broke out, was looking forward to finally returning home.

posted by Tom at 8:47 PM