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MARCH 12, 2003
11:48 AM
CONTACT: Voices in the Wilderness 
Kathy Kelly or Ed Kinane, Iraq Peace Team: (+964-1) 718-8007 or 717-7440 or
Jeff Guntzel or Stephanie Schaudel, Voices in the Wilderness: 773-784-8065 or 773-793-0952
UN Evacuates From Iraq, Peaceworkers Vow to Stay
BAGHDAD - March 12 - From its tent encampment across the road from the Canal Hotel UN Compound - beginning at 6:30AM, Wednesday, March 12 - the Iraq Peace Team (IPT), with deep regret, bid farewell to departing United Nations staff. While weapons inspectors and UN senior staff remain in Baghdad, the vast majority of international staff were involuntarily evacuated by the UN from Iraq on Wednesday.

The Team posted signs saying, "Farewell UN. Please advise: Who will protect Iraq's children?" As UN vehicles departed, the Team lined the road bearing enlarged photos of Iraqi children and civilians.

Despite the UN personnel's involuntary departure, twenty IPT members asserted their intent to remain in Iraq for the duration of hostilities. The UN departure signals the imminent escalation of the military attack on the Iraqi people. It is such an attach that Voices in the Wilderness, IPT's Chicago-based parent organization, has been working since 1996 to avert.

IPT and Voices in the Wilderness co-founder, Kathy Kelly, declared, "We are shocked by the involuntary evacuation of UN workers here in Iraq. It is deeply disturbing to everyone everywhere who honors the UN Charter - a Charter which pledges to eliminate the scourge of war."

Kelly explained, "The Iraqi people have been dependent on the international community during these long years of sanctions, siege and bombing. It was a forced dependency, but nevertheless they are now more abandoned than ever. We dread the coming carnage."

IPT member and long-time UNICEF volunteer, Cynthia Banas, of Vernon, New York said, "We believe that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, and we choose to stay. Many of us come from faith-based backgrounds that urge works of mercy rather than works of war."

The Iraq Peace Team in Baghdad consists mostly of US citizens, but also includes members from Canada, Australia, Ireland and South Korea. All IPT members are committed to active Nonviolence.


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