Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 17 Oct 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqis help their own with humanitarian aid.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers and a Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) group brought much needed aid to nearly 500 families in the small town of Hawr-Rajab, Oct. 13.

While U.S. forces provided security, the humanitarian aid operation offered medicine along with school and household supplies to the town’s residents. The event was made possible only after the Hawr-Rajab CLC group reached out to the IA to remove the insurgent threat from the area. Hawr-Rajab was considered a tier one IED site only three months ago, meaning it received five or more IED attacks a week.

The leader of the CLC group, Sheik Ali, credits the town’s positive reversal to the willingness of the IA and U.S. forces to accompany the CLC on joint patrols. The reversal is also due to the daily security the Coalition forces provide, Ali said.

After receiving household, school, and medical supplies from members of the IA, any citizen could request to have a free medical screening performed by the Iraqi medical staff on hand. Patients received care for conditions ranging from kidney stones to shrapnel wounds, while others simply asked for information or sought advice.

The most telling sign of the resident’s ease around the IA Soldiers was the large presence of children. The children were overjoyed by the toys that were handed out and several laughed and joked with the Soldiers while waiting their turn. With the new school year starting in a few days, many of the children went through the line multiple times for much needed school supplies. Later in the day, some of the IA Soldiers helped the children by carrying boxes of supplies that were too big for them to hold.

While the town has much further to go before it becomes truly safe, progress is being made. Shops have reopened to sell fresh foods and needed items. Citizens are very proud of the changes they have caused in their town, and maintain hope for a bright future.