Five South African ”human shields” may ”reluctantly” return to South Africa from Iraq due to family pressures and the ”extreme realities of a war situation”, the Iraq Action Committee (IAC) said on Saturday.
”Five people from our group may leave today (Saturday) very reluctantly, to return home for personal reasons and after lots of calls from families who have been watching news reports, but this is normal pressure from people back home who are afraid and fear their loved one’s safety,” said the IAC’s Abie Dawjee from a Baghdad hotel on Saturday.
Dawjee said most people from his group had settled in. ”We have settled in and are on our way now (Saturday morning), to the civilian structures, mainly the electricity sites, water filtration plants and food silos.”
He and the rest of the group, among them lawyers and students, who volunteered to be human shields at selected sites in Iraq, left the country on Tuesday night with plans to get to Baghdad via Jordan. They arrived in Baghdad on Thursday.
Dawjee said: ”I spoke to one human shield’s wife who was crying frantically and broke down. I guess there are certain realities to face when the bombs fall and it shakes not only buildings but people’s minds too…”
But Dawjee said the morale of the rest of the South African human shields was ”pretty good”.
”It is a very nerve-wracking and tense period obviously. When the bombs fall we have to run down to the bomb shelters and while sitting underground we are inclined to think of lots of things.
”We reflect on many issues and analyse the meaning of life and these things catch up with some people.
”There is also great apprehension in the air. There is an eerie silence in the city over most times..,” he said.
”Its very frightening with bombs falling close to our hotel. Some windows were already damaged and glass is lying everywhere, but most human shields, and the Iraqi people themselves, were coping very well in the war zone.”
Dawjee described the Iraqi people to be in ”very good spirits and ready to fight the enemy.”
In a message to people back home, Dawjee said most human shields just wanted people to pray for them.
”While looking at the little box in front of you sitting scared out of your wits for our safety, remember it is scary but the bigger picture is the actual bombardment in Iraq.” – Sapa