Q&A with Sun reporter in Kuwait

SunSpot Staff

JO ANN BAUER: What are the emotions of the people who are receiving thefood and water in the relief effort?

TODD RICHISSIN: It varies, and it varies unfortunately on how big you are.This is Darwinism at its worst. There were very large men in there whowere very strong who were able to get away with a lot of boxes. And thenthere were little kids and women out there on the outskirts who were ableto get very little at all. It was disorganized chaos. It was a very tensescene. The problem in that area still is that there are pockets of guyswho are willing to give up their lives to cause disruption. And even asthose trucks were parked there, there were British soldiers out on theperimeter who were very nervous because they just don't know when one ofthose guys is going to come in with a hand grenade or a gun and startshooting, and those are the kind of tactics that have been used.

JAMIE COSTELLO: How long will this shipment last them?

TR: The shipment that came in yesterday and the day before won't last verylong at all, maybe a couple of days. The people in these areas aren'tstarving, but they are hungry. According to various estimates, they haveanywhere from four to six weeks' worth of food. We're told that today, atUmm Qasr, which is a major port and major delivery area for aid, they'll betaking the first ship in which has about five tons of food. The fooddeliveries you've watched on tape were almost token, made-for-TV pictures,but they weren't the kind of pictures they wanted because chaos broke out.They did want pictures of aid going in, and I think there's hope that thosepictures will be seen in the north, maybe Basra and even Baghdad, so thatpeople will say, "Maybe we will be better off if we dump Saddam Hussein."

JAB: What about the water?

TR: They've improved that situation in Basra considerably. The populationin Basra is about 1.3 [million] to 2 million people. It's a very large, veryurbanized city. All the water has gone out. There's finger-pointing goingon as to who did it. The Iraqis are saying the Americans did it, and theAmericans say the Iraqis did it to cause a disaster. They've been withoutwater for five or six days. The international committee for the Red Crossgot in there a couple of days ago and managed to fix the pumps so thatabout 50 percent of the water supply is back, which is a huge improvement.When you've got that many people and you're talking about half the watersupply you once had, it's still bad.

The technology hadn't been kept up here because Saddam Hussein has been squirreling away money in his palaces. So it's still a very serious situation. It's causing a real dilemma for the British troops in particular. If they go in too quickly, they risktheir own lives and those of civilians. If they don't go in quicklyenough, this humanitarian problem continues.

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