August 11, 2014
CNN correspondent Ivan Watson, cameraman Mark Phillips, and a CNN crew member rode along on a humanitarian Iraqi air force flight with members of the Kurdish peshmerga, as they carried out a dramatic mission to Mount Sinjar, in Iraq, to deliver supplies to desperate Yazidis and to fly a lucky few to safety. The drop included food, water, milk, and diapers. According to Watson, who has been covering Iraq, "They flew in shooting; they flew out shooting." He also revealed that he was terrified and sent messages to loved ones, just in case, adding, "We landed on several short occasions, and that's where, amid this explosion of dust and chaos, these desperate civilians came racing towards the helicopter, throwing their children on board the aircraft. Those of us on board just started to pull up as many people as possible." CNN showed the rescuees crowded together on the floor of the helicopter, some relieved, some crying, some clinging to loved ones, others grieving those left behind. They were physically saved, yet emotionally wrung out. But, for the moment at least, they felt safe. It was a moving sight. There have been other drops: the US Department of Defense actually parachuted in pallets of halal meals; Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid an unannounced visit to Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE as Australian forces began air-dropping aid to stranded refugees in northern Iraq. There has been help from other sources as well. But now President Obama says, “Because of the skill and professionalism of our military, and the generosity of our efforts, we broke the [ISIS] siege of Mount Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety, and we helped save many innocent lives,” which is great, but perhaps it would be a good idea to keep on dropping food and supplies. It is the one thing that we can do to win friends and respect, and God knows, the refugee camps and rural areas where ISIS has left devastation in its wake are still in need of help.
What We Can Do:
- Write to President Obama to thank him for our humanitarian drops and to ask him to continue: www.whitehouse.gov
- Let your representatives in Congress know that you want such humanitarian aid to continue, and mention that it's an important step toward changing the hearts and minds of Iraqis
- Please ask your contacts to do the same