Destroyed Fallujah Now

By Samir Haddad & Mazen Ghazi
IOL Correspondents
BAGHDAD ( - Iraq's Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) has ruled out the return of Fallujah evacuees to their homes during the coming days, dismissing statements by the interim government, due to wide scale destruction caused by the US military campaign that rendered the city "uninhabitable".
A statement issued Monday, December 20, by the interim Iraqi government, said that displaced Iraqis will start returning Thursday, December 23, to Fallujah, which was virtually abandoned by its residents ahead of last month's massive US assault to regain control of the city from resistance fighters.
The statement said that the first batch of citizens would return to the southwestern neighborhood of Al-Andalus. Fallujah used to have a population of some 300,000 before the assault.
"The cabinet today approved the plan for the citizens of Fallujah to start returning to their city. The return will begin on Thursday December 23 for residents of Andalus district only," the statement read.
No Living Conditions
On the ground, the sufferings of Fallujah displaced and evacuees have critically escalated seven weeks after being forced to leave their hometown. The sufferings are manifested in severe shortage of foodstuff, medical requirements and services as well as the freezing cold, featuring Iraq's winter.
In an exclusive statement to Tuesday December 21, AMS secretary general, Sheikh Hareth Suliman Al-Dari said, "Fallujah is completely destroyed and sabotaged. It has become uninhabitable with no water, electricity or wastewater facilities."
"The rotten smell of the dead is widespread and smokes of internationally banned weapons [used by the US occupation] cover its sky. So, I don't think they will return to it even if the occupation forces depart. They will probably be back in months or even years," Al-Dari resumed.
Al-Dari put the blame for the sufferings of Fallujah people on the occupation troops and the Iraqi government, pointing out to the shortage of "foodstuff, clothes and shelter."
Police Measures
"Fallujah is still under occupation and nobody can have access there but the US troops," Al-Dari said, pointing out that "resistance still exists in some neighborhoods."
On the rumored negotiations between Fallujah wealthy people and the officials of the interim government on the return of evacuees, Al-Dari said, "I have no idea about such negotiations. I do not think any wise man would ask for the return of Fallujah residents under such tragic circumstances."
The statement by the interim government was strict on banning "the carrying or licensing of any weapons inside the Fallujah."
There was no word, however, on measures declared by the US military recently on conditions set for the return of Fallujah displaced to their destroyed homes.
The set of police state measures were reported early December by the Boston Globe.
The measures include funneling Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and scanning, according to the American paper.
Humanitarian Catastrophe
To add salt to injury, Fallujah's displaced families are currently suffering difficult and catastrophic humanitarian circumstances.
"Medical services are very bad. There are several inhabitants in Ameriyat Fallujah Hospital who suffer from diseases resulting from lack of services," Dr. Gamal Nasser, board chairman of Iraqi Red Crescent Society told
"Some women suffered abortion and children mortality increased due to the lack of health care," he added.
"I volunteered to transport foodstuff, relief and medical materials donated by some well-offs to the evacuees," Abu Mohamed, a driver who is assigned to transport aids to the hospital that received more than 3000 displaced families.
"The US troops and the Iraqi National Guard hinder and may prevent the arrival of relief materials provided by the parties and relief organizations," Abu Mohamed added.
He pointed out that due to the obstacles imposed by the occupation, a trip to Baghdad may take three hours, instead of the 50 minutes such a trip usually takes.
"So, I have to resort to unpaved roads to reach the Ameriyat Fallujah."
Thousands of evacuees suffer severe difficulties due to the impossibility of accommodating them in the camps that have been established by some charities; a matter that led many of them to gather in schools.
Mosleh Al-Gamily, a secondary school teacher who took refuge in a camp in Ameriyat Fallujah, said, "I left Fallujah one day before the US occupation managed to control the town and headed with my nine-member family to this camp."
"We receive aids from philanthropists but feel that the interim government has done nothing to extend a helping hand. No official visited us, as if the responsibility of the government towards us has come to an end by destroying the city," he added.
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