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Coalition Forces Assist Iraqi Population - 2003-04-01

As coalition forces advance in Iraqi territory, they are distributing basic food and water supplies to the Iraqi population whenever possible. British soldiers recently built a much needed water pipeline in the town of Umm Qasr.

And Wayne Bowman tells us, U.S. troops are also assisting the medical needs of the civilian population.

The new pipeline runs from Kuwait into the town of Umm Qasr where the population has been suffering from a lack of water and basic food staples.

“Our mission was to build a pipeline to deliver two million liters of water per day to the area of Umm Qasr.”

Umm Qasr had been without water for more than a week. When the pipeline was finally turned on people came running to fill whatever containers they had available.

Meanwhile, U.S. Navy doctors set up a medical facility in Central Iraq Tuesday. The soldiers did everything, from checking blood pressure to treating minor pains. Lieutenant Commander David Healy says the villagers’ response was very positive.

“The people, they’re great. It’s obviously a great community and it’s neat to be part of something really positive.”

However, U.S. troops said when they first entered the town, the Iraqi civilians were extremely frightened. They said when members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party left the town they warned them that U.S. forces would kill all men between the ages of 18 and 40. This American soldier explains how he reassured a young man he encountered.

“He was worried. He was waving, we were doing the universal signal there, a wave to each other just so he would know that we were friendly.”

On Monday, British soldiers also carried out food and water distribution in the southern town of Zubayr where some of the fiercest fighting has taken place. British soldiers had to fire warning shots in the air to control large crowds of civilians desperate for aid.

Aid is also beginning to flow from non-military sources. At the Jordanian-Iraqi border, a convoy from the Greek branch of the humanitarian organization Medicines du Monde left for Baghdad Monday, where they will distribute 250 tons of medical supplies and food to area hospitals.