© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2003
GENEVA -- The international Red Cross said Monday that it had started visiting thousands of prisoners of war held by coalition forces in Iraq, but had yet to receive word that it can see U.S. POWs taken by the Iraqi military.
Balthasar Staehelin, Mideast head at the International Committee of the Red Cross, told reporters that 15 staff members from the Swiss-based organization traveled to a camp in southern Iraq where coalition forces were holding 3,000 soldiers.
Staehelin, in keeping with the traditionally discreet organization's policy, refused to give the exact location of the camp or say whether it was run by U.S. or British troops.
Although the ICRC is holding talks with Iraqi authorities, Baghdad has so far failed to give the organization access to coalition POWs. The Geneva Conventions require Red Cross access to the prisoners.
UNITED NATIONS -- Arab and Islamic nations decided Monday to push for adoption of a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly against the U.S.-led war in Iraq to show the strength of world opposition.
In a statement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference Group, which has 57 member nations, emphasized its readiness to take the issue to the General Assembly. It called for an immediate cease-fire, withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq and respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its neighbors.
The group hopes to go before the assembly this week, Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri, who is chairman of the 22-member Arab Group at the United Nations, said after a closed-door meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
NEW YORK -- Saudi Arabia's foreign minister strongly suggested in an interview broadcast Monday that Saddam Hussein should step down from power for the sake of the Iraqi people.
"If his staying in power (is) the only thing that brings problems to his country, we expect he would respond to a sacrifice for his country, as he requires any citizen there to ... sacrifice for his country," Prince Saud al Faisal said in the interview broadcast on ABC-TV.
Last month, Arab leaders declined to endorse a proposal from the United Arab Emirates for Hussein to leave the country to avoid a U.S.-led invasion.
One item U.S. military personnel in Iraq are asking for is pantyhose. Now, that might give some people pause, but pantyhose are one way that troops can protect themselves from pesky sand fleas.
Women's pantyhose work well enough as a sand-flea barrier, but several companies make pantyhose especially for men. G. Lieberman & Sons offers a practical line of male-only pantyhose through its Web site, www.glieberman.com. Several models sport male-friendly fly openings and come in several sizes, from the more traditional waist-length versions to shorter three-quarter and sock-sized models.
"We found this to be a very viable product, with real benefits, and not just something for cross-dressers," says Kimberly Najarian of Ibel Agency, which represents the e-commerce company.
Male pantyhose are designed with the dimensions of the male body in mind, Najarian says. While women's pantyhose come up to the waist, the male versions ride a bit lower, at the level a pair of men's jeans might reach.
LONDON -- An Iraqi baby who suffered serious burns in a fire at her home near the southern city of Basra arrived Monday in Britain for medical treatment, the Ministry of Defense said.
The blaze was not caused by U.S.-led military action against Iraq, said Annabel Mead, a ministry spokeswoman.
Six-month-old Mareyam Ailan flew with her parents aboard a British military plane to Cyprus, and then joined injured British soldiers on a charter flight to Liverpool, Mead said.
"It's an exceptional case, and the circumstances were that we were in a position to bring her back on a flight that was bringing back casualties anyway," Mead said. "A decision was made on humanitarian grounds to include her on the flight."
LONDON -- Former pop star Cat Stevens, a convert to Islam, has recorded his first song in 25 years to raise money for children affected by the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Stevens, who now uses the name Yusuf Islam, re-recorded his 1971 hit song Peace Train in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It is among the tracks on Hope, an album produced for the War Child charity that helps children in war-torn countries. Other contributors include former Beatle Paul McCartney, David Bowie and George Michael.
Islam, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the early 1970s. He abandoned his music career in 1977 and changed his name after being convinced by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law.