By Paul McGeough
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Additional info for Manhattan to Baghdad: Dispatches from the Frontline in the War on Terrorism
The Twin Towers stood so tall above Manhattan that they always seemed to be just around the corner, even from 40 or 60 blocks away. Now, in these first attempts to grapple with the enormity of what was happening, the tower in my mind simply might have twisted on its pedestal—I could not imagine that it had collapsed into the ghastly tangle which, that night, became a tomb for thousands. I started running, as fast as my legs could carry me, downtown in a city that was running uptown. The dust clagging my throat was a pulverised cocktail of office furniture and the glass, steel and concrete of the towers.
However, the respite might have been too late for Marcuarh, whose six-month-old daughter seemed to be dying before our eyes. The child lay limp on a ragged pillow, her only comfort a tiny mosquito net. Only the faintest breathing moved her weary lungs and her matchstick limbs seemed useless. The young mother was distraught and, at the same time, resigned to what seems to be inevitable: ‘She is dying and what can I do? It’s better that way. ’ I was brought to the Qom Qashlaq camp by Jeahon Shorhatangis, a 26-year-old whose dreams of study had been shattered by the crisis that had dogged Afghanistan since he was a toddler, making it a social and economic wasteland devoid of the institutions we take so much for granted in a first world democracy.
Perhaps failed the Manhattan to Baghdad 13/01/2003 4:05 PM Page 27 STICKS ON HUMAN BONES 27 Afghans more than any other population. In the last 20 years they have experienced assaults upon the body and the spirit, on their culture and society. These human rights abuses have left open and irreparable wounds . . ’ After a day in one of the border camps a harried UN worker, who did little to conceal her contempt for John Howard’s closed-door policy, told me: ‘If I was an Afghan, I wouldn’t want to live in Afghanistan.