I am pleased to see coverage of the tragic situation in Somalia in the article "Somali Civil War Takes Stiff Toll on Civilians," Dec. 16. I am dismayed, however, to discover that no mention was made of the relief efforts of the Los Angeles-based International Medical Corps (IMC) in southern Somalia. The article asks, "Where is the US?" A US presence is providing humanitarian aid in Somalia.The IMC Somali project is financed by a grant from the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance and is supplemented by private donations of medical services and equipment. Since the end of October, the IMC, a nonprofit organization, has been the only American group providing emergency medical aid in the war-ravaged capital city of Mogadishu. As one of our nurses told us last week, "There are not enough hours in the day to take care of all the wounded." A general lack of health-care services and medical supplies in Somalia has added to the disastrous conditions. Due to the severity of the fighting, which can only be described as mass slaughter, the IMC project faces a shortage of medical and other supplies across the board. Nancy A. Aossey, Los Angeles President & CEO, International Medical Corps
No sympathy for Rushdie Regarding the article "Rushdie Issues Strident Call for British Diplomacy," Dec. 16: Salman Rushdie has no business comparing himself to the newly released hostages. Terry Waite was abducted during his efforts on behalf of other hostages; Mr. Rushdie brought the wrath - unsurprisingly - of Iran's late ayatollah with his book. Yes, his life has become sadly restricted, and yes, Iran's continued death sentence is outrageous. However, the British government cannot center its foreign policy on Rushdie's condition. Rushdie ought to have thought about the kind of people he might offend when he wrote his moneymaking "The Satanic Verses." We in the West may cry all we like about freedom of expression, but few Muslims extend such freedom to discussion of the prophet. Mary Nachtrieb, Williamsburg, Va.