By Deeksha Aggarwalla
If you, dear readers deign to Google the word Fallujah, the web searches will be full of information about its fall; different battles will crop up and in multiple timelines. The above cry in its entirety, I truly, believe summarises the grief that the city has gone through and is undergoing.
Many battles have been fought over fertile lands rich with heritage. Does Fallujah have any history as such?
To begin from the beginning, Fallujah has been an important city since the time of Babylon. It housed important Jewish academies. It is located 50 Km west of Baghdad in the Euphrates river valley. In addition, it is famous as the city of minerals and mosques. No need to spell it out nevertheless it is as fertile as it does. The boon of being a significant centre for development during the Saddam era has been its greatest bane. It was heavily industrialised during the same and is suspected of housing factories which manufactured chemical weapons. Look at the irony, deadly weapons are now being wielded on its own soil.
Why am I babbling about all this now?
From the Gulf war in 1991 to the Iraq War, Fallujah’s name has been popping up occasionally in the headlines. It is during ISIS era, however, that it has been subjected to one of the worst travesties in its life. In 2013, ISIS captured the city, making it one of the first strongholds of the organisation. In 2015, the coalition of Iraqi Government and the US came hard on such strongholds, imposing a complete siege over Fallujah. In the process, they of course forgot that Fallujah is home to innocents as well until it was too late. ISIS came harder. They mined the borders of the town in a defensive attempt.
How has this panned for those living there?
There is poor connectivity with people outside the region. People are reported to have died of starvation and heat. Combine the two and no aid can reach the place by road and no force can enter it to save those living there. Food supplies are ending and hospitals do not have enough medicine to take care of the ailing, weak and sick – think about, the women who are pregnant and need neo- natal attention.
Is there any ray of hope?
Air-drops are the only hope that people living there have. Sun shines hard in Fallujah and winters are bitter. This winter seems to be never ending irrespective of the season. The coalition is okay using drones to spy and raid the area but talk about dropping supplies – NAH! They fear whose hands the supply will fall in. The Iraqi forces are speculated to have closed upon Fallujah but there is no clarity if they are going to first battle it out for Fallujah or Mosul first, people are going to starve and Fallujah will burn in hatred, indifference and death.
Fallujah is not the only city, which is dying a brutal death in this war. There are thousands others burning along with their resources and men in different countries, whether it is Nigeria under the rule of Boko Haram or Somalia, fleeing from its own Pirates or Sri Lanka fighting each other in the civil war. Wars do not just kill the bad, they kill the good also. The collateral damage, more often than not (as the destroyed good are called) come back to avenge themselves. War has never begotten Peace.
Look at WWII after WWI or the Palestinian wars or the Iraq War after 9/11.
Sitting at home, we often wonder if we can do anything about such wars. May be we cannot stop them but we can definitely provide aid to the victims through organisations like MercyCorps, Unicef or Amnesty. They run volunteer programmes in neighbouring countries and help in the passage of refugees. Their existence promotes peace. How far have we come along that we need organisations to promote peace? Wasn’t mankind a symbol of the same?