Reporters on the Job
• Undercover Aid Workers: Today's story about who's helping Iraq's wounded civilians (see story) proved especially difficult to report. Government officials wouldn't discuss the subject. And when correspondent Sam Dagher called an international aid group, based in neighboring Jordan and coordinating efforts among NGOs in Iraq, they were unwilling to give Sam the names of any groups in Iraq. "There have been so many aid workers kidnapped or killed that the few groups still operating here want to remain anonymous," says Sam.
Eventually, the aid group agreed to send out Sam's request for an interview via e-mail. Anyone interested in talking to Sam could contact him directly. "I got one call from someone who refused to give his name or the name of the NGO he worked for. He just said his work was US funded. It turned out he wasn't working with wounded or disabled Iraqis, just those displaced by the fighting," says Sam.
Only the head of the Iraqi Handicapped and Survival Society agreed to allow his name to be used in the story.
Two of Sam's Iraqi assistants tried to get statistics from the Ministry of Health. But they never got to the Ministry. "Several bombs went off ahead of them, followed by gunfire. They turned around," says Sam. He sent them home after several bombs went off near the Monitor office and soldiers began setting up detours. "Another day in Baghdad," sighs Sam.
David Clark Scott