US troops 'preventing aid' to Falluja

US troops are preventing a Red Crescent convoy of emergency aid from reaching helpless residents inside Falluja, a spokeswoman says.

    Iraqi Red Crescent: The wounded are unable to reach hospitals

    Hopes were raised that the military would make an exception to a no-entry rule when the trucks were allowed as far as the Falluja general hospital, which was seized before a US-Iraqi assault to gain control of the city, the spokeswoman said on Saturday.

    But wounded residents inside the war zone were unable to enter the hospital on the western outskirts, and US forces forbade the aid convoy from reaching them, Red Crescent spokeswoman Firdus al-Ubadi said.

    Access denied

    "They are in the general hospital, but until now the Americans will not let them distribute medical supplies in the city," al-Ubadi said, referring to the team of 50 volunteers and three doctors that had travelled from Baghdad to Falluja.

    Doctor Jamal al-Karbuli, the secretary-general of the Iraqi Red Crescent, "is negotiating with the Americans to let them distribute the supplies to the people", she added.

    Many families have fled from the
    war-torn city to nearby villages

    "Jamal is insisting, at least, to have permission to get the injured people out of Falluja and into the hospital."

    Civilians hiding in the city, where US and Iraqi troops have clashed with the resistance since Monday, are dying of starvation and thirst and something must be done to help them, al-Ubadi said.

    "They need us. It is our duty as a humanitarian agency to do our job for these people in these circumstances," she said.

    The Iraqi government said it was evacuating wounded civilians out of Falluja and that the main hospital would soon be operational again.

    A US military spokesman said the city was too risky for the aid workers.

    "We have to take into consideration safety and security," he said.

    Refugees badly need water and
    food supplies, aid workers said

    Refugee town struck

    Late on Saturday, Aljazeera reported that the town of Amiriyat al-Falluja - hosting about 4000 families fleeing the fighting in Falluja - was struck by a US aerial assault, which killed five people and injured four others.

    Earlier, the Red Crescent society had despatched a convoy of four relief trucks and an ambulance to Amiriyat al-Falluja and a tourist village in Habbaniya - where an additional 1500 refugees are camped.

    The Red Crescent believes that only 150 families are still in the heart of Falluja, but it is concerned about the
    plight of tens of thousands of people living in refugee camps and villages dotted outside.

    "They are dying of starvation and a lack of water, especially
    the children," al-Ubadi said.

    "If there is no solution to this crisis it will expand to other cities and other parts of Iraq and there will be a great disaster here."

    An AFP correspondent in Falluja said he had seen a number of
    families emerge from the devastation. 

    US snipers target anything that
    moves on the ground

    One group among them complained on Friday of severe thirst and hunger. Another was on the edge of despair.

    Witness contradicts denials

     Local journalist in Falluja, Haza al-Afify, told Aljazeera that there were many civilian casualties, contrary to what the US military said.

    "The humanitarian situation is miserable. The US forces have cut the electricity power supply.

    "Water-pumping operations have now stopped for good. Water pipes carry polluted water supply. There is a severe shortage of foodstuff and food supplies," he said.

    "The US forces denial is something but the realities on the ground are another. The US tanks and aircraft keep bombarding residents' homes day and night.

    "The US snipers keep dominating rooftops and target everything that moves on the ground. This is mass murder for Falluja residents," the journalist said.

    "There are scores of families buried under the rubble of destroyed homes. Others have bled to death. There is a stench from every street due to decaying bodies."

    "So how can I believe the US forces' allegations on what I have witnessed by my own eyes?"

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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