Correspondents: Baghdad Still has Food; Water and Electricity Scarce
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Baghdad still has food, but electricity and running water are scarce because of allied air raids, according to reporters’ accounts.
Schools, banks and many stores remain closed in the Iraqi capital, and at least one hospital says it’s stocks of blood, antibiotics and other supplies have been depleted, CNN correspondent Peter Arnett reported in a live telephone report Sunday.
But some residents of the city of 3.4 million people were able to move about, say foreign journalists, whose movements and reports are strictly limited by the Iraqi government.
″People are out on the roads. They are driving cars when they can get gasoline. They’re going to markets,″ Arnett said.
Canadian Press correspondent Leila Deeb, a Jordanian, toured damaged areas Saturday, including a private home reduced to rubble.
She quoted an engineer who fled Baghdad as saying he rushed outside when he heard bombs falling Jan. 20 in An Najaf, 90 miles south.
When the engineer, Mohammad Al-Habboubi, arrived at his cousin’s home, Al- Habboubi found it had received a direct hit, Deeb reported. Iraqi officials said 13 of the 14 people inside were among 35 victims of the attack. The sole survivor, the owner of the house, was reported to be in a coma.
Deeb reported Thursday that the Adila Khatoun mosque, in Baghdad’s Sarrafieh residential district, had shattered glass all over its carpeted floor. She said it was the apparent result of a bomb or missile that landed on shops and restaurants across the street.
The allied command has said it was taking pains to avoid homes and other non-military areas in its intense bombing.
Deeb reported that despite the bombing raids, some shops were still providing food and necessities, but homes and hotels were without electricity.
Arnett said Sunday that he had been told by Iraqi authorities that the city power grid was down, but electricity should be restored to most of the city soon.
″Water has come on in the hotel for the first time, an hour this afternoon,″ said Arnett, who is staying at the Hotel al-Rashid.
Last week, people were scooping water from the Tigris River for washing and cooking, said Palestinian journalist Lamis Andoni, in an account published Friday in the Financial Times of London.
″Remarkably, food supplies do not yet appear to have been seriously affected,″ said Andoni, ″but people had in any case stockpiled food.″
She said bridges and roads had not been affected by the bombardment, including all the city’s bridges over the Tigris.
Arnett said Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council announced Saturday that authorities will begin providing gasoline, perhaps 10 gallons every 15 days to registered motorists and 30 gallons to trucks.
A more somber assessment was offered by Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sirrous Nasseri.
″We are informed through a number of people who have come to Iran from Iraq that the situation there for the people is absolutely terrible,″ he told Britain’s Independent Television News in a Sunday interview from Geneva.
″They are suffering terribly. There is no communication. People do not know whether their relatives have died or are alive,″ he said.
Andoni said that even after the war began, the average man on the street in Baghdad remained optimistic.
On Jan. 20, four days into the war, people began appearing on the streets of Baghdad again, the Palestinian journalist said.
″They seem more confident. ‘We feel great. We’re holding up,’ they would say. They also expressed confidence that Saddam had something more up his sleeve,″ Andoni said.
″They (also) say, ’He takes us for granted. He does whatever he likes,‴ she added. ″They say he should not have invaded Kuwait. But every time he hits Israel they are very proud. ...
″But they are very angry about the lack of freedom and human rights.″