News Release

Back from Afghanistan: Interviews Available


Family members of Sept. 11 victims have formed a non-profit organization seeking effective alternatives to war as a response to the terrorist attacks. Peaceful Tomorrows favors the creation of an Afghan victims fund to match the outpouring of support for U.S. victims. Four family members have recently traveled to Afghanistan to meet with civilian victims of the subsequent bombing. Rita Lasar lost her brother, Abe Zelmanowitz, in the World Trade Center when he stayed back with a quadriplegic friend. He was later eulogized by George W. Bush. She said today: “I found the answer to what a country looks like when it’s been at war for 23 years, and the last part of the war was done in my brother’s name.” Derrill Bodley lost his 20-year-old daughter on United Flight 93. He said today: “When the bombing first started, I said to myself, I hope that there are no innocent victims. But it was a rather futile hope on my part because there’s never been a perfect bombing campaign.” Kelly Campbell lost her brother-in-law in the Pentagon. She said today: “We see them as our sister families, people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are women who have to send their children out to beg for food, children who lost their limbs to cluster bombs.”
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Jennings, president of Conscience International, recently returned from his third humanitarian mission to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said today: “Reports indicate that 87 percent of the people in Afghanistan are affected in some way by the continuing presence of unexploded land mines, and that 200,000 people have lost a limb or been wounded by mines. Twenty-five to 35 persons are injured every day by mines, and one in 10 victims is a child. Recently in Afghanistan I saw children arrive screaming at the hospital, blinded and maimed by American cluster bombs. Reports by UN and independent humanitarian aid agencies are only now beginning to reflect the stark life-and-death reality for some of the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan, including 2.5 million Kuchi nomads, who have received very little food aid. Last month in Herat a Conscience International team reported that thousands of Kuchis, newly-arrived at the giant Maslakh camp under worsening winter conditions, were without food and remain ineligible for WFP distribution. They told us, ‘Nobody has given us any food, and if we don’t get food soon, we will die.'”

Freelance journalist Erlich has just returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said today: “My observations and interviews indicate that the U.S. is going to be bogged down for a long time. There is no central government, the security situation is bad and the drug-running is back in full swing. So far the U.S. has been unable or uninterested in doing anything about it. This situation is similar to the warlord fighting that destroyed Afghanistan prior to the rise of the Taliban in the early to mid ’90s.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167