Iraqi Stringer for Reuters Is Rare Unembedded Reporter in Fallujah

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By: E&P Staff

One of the few journalists working for a Western news outlet inside Fallujah but not embedded with the U.S. military is Fadel al-Badrani, who has been stringing in his hometown for Reuters since April 2003.

According to a British press report, Reuters has given al-Badrani and other Reuters employees the opportunity to leave the city now that it is so dangerous, but he has refused. Barry Moody, Reuters’ Middle East and Africa editor, said, “They’ve all got mobile and satellite phones and we have given them flak jackets and helmets.”

Al-Badrani, who has a doctorate in journalism, moved his family out of Fallujah a couple of weeks ago but returned to his home to keep filing. According to the British report, Moody trusts his correspondents’ on-the-ground knowledge to keep them safe.

“In the case of Fallujah that is very important,” he said. “In normal circumstances that’s really the greatest protection they have, though we give all our staff the advice that they should never take life-threatening risks for a story. We don’t believe any story is worth a life.”

A Reuters story that went out early Friday, with the twin byline of Michael Georgy and Fadel al-Badrani, observed: “The city’s Haj Hussein mosque was destroyed in one overnight air raid, [residents] said. The U.S. military says it considers mosques legitimate targets if insurgents use them for military purposes.

“Smoke rose from an ice factory on the edge of Jolan after rebels fired three rockets at U.S. forces there, residents said.

“The Iraqi Red Crescent Society urged U.S. forces and the Iraqi government to let it deliver food, medicine and water to Falluja, describing conditions there as a ‘big disaster.’

“‘We call on the Iraqi government and U.S. forces to allow us to do our humanitarian duty to the innocent people,’ said Red Crescent spokeswoman Firdoos al-Ubadi.

“A U.S. military spokesman said the Red Crescent had permission to help the many civilians who have fled Falluja, but could not say if it had been granted access to the city itself.

“Rasoul Ibrahim, a father of three, fled Falluja on foot on Thursday morning and arrived with his wife and children in Habbaniya, about 20 km (12 miles) to the west, at night. He said families left in the city were in desperate need.

“‘There’s no water. People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there’s no proper food,” he told aid workers in Habbaniya, which has become a refugee camp, with around 2,000 families sheltering there.”

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