The first major humanitarian relief convoys have arrived in southern Iraq, but coalition forces are struggling to clear the way for more aid shipments. Brian Purchia has more on the humanitarian crisis facing Iraq.
An aid convoy of seven trucks escorted by U-S soldiers reached the port city of Umm Qasr carrying food and water overland from Kuwait. Meals were distributed in the Iraqi border town of Safwan and in Umm Qasr. It’s the first food people here have seen in days.
Coalition forces are clearing the port at Umm Qasr and surrounding waterways of mines and other obstructions. Lt. Comdr. John Herriman of the Royal Navy says ships laden with aid should enter the port within days.
LT. COMDR. JOHN HERRIMAN, ROYAL NAVY
“I'd anticipate we'd be looking at days more than anything else because we can open specific berths more quickly than opening the whole port."
The port has been mined and Australian divers are trying to clear it, one mine at a time...they are helped by American trained dolphins that can find underwater explosives. Meanwhile, outside the nearby city of Basra, Red Cross engineers are racing to fully restore water to the city.
More than 60 percent of Basra's population remains without access to clean water, and the United Nations says tens of thousands of Basra's children are at risk of disease.
BASRA MAN, SPEAKING IN ARABIC
“The water we get from the wells is salty, but this one is pure and we have to pay for it. If there is no more water, we will be forced to drink the salty water.”
Residents of both Umm Qasr and Basra say stocks of food are running low and their markets are almost empty.