One military officer refers to it as “the gear in the rear”. That’s how they’re describing the truckloads of humanitarian aid destined for Basra’s more than one million citizens.
In a city under siege, where electricity and water shortages are making bad living conditions worse, it’s anyone’s guess when that gear might have the chance to do good. And in a conflict taking unexpected twists, there are increasing concerns about the military’s ability to wage war with the enemy, and provide sustenance to its citizens. There’s a fear that humanitarian objectives are ranked too low on the military’s To Do List in Iraq. Meanwhile, the military insists that relief in Basra is just days away. Beating back the bad guys, and making good with the people.
Gethin Chamberlain, Reporter in southern Iraq for The Scotsman newspaper
Roberta Cohen, co-director of the Joint Project on International Displacement at the Brookings Institution
Fouad Bawaba, International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson in Kuwait.