American Woman Counts Iraqi Casualties

ABC News' David Wright profiled peace activist Marla Ruzicka and her mission in 2003.
5:53 | 04/17/15

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Transcript for American Woman Counts Iraqi Casualties
Among the many unanswered questions from the war in Iraq one in particular nags at a woman from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been in Baghdad since the day that Saddam statue fell visiting hospitals knocking on doors trying to answer a single question. ABC's David Wright introduces us tonight to Marla rose Erica. In the village of Russia via and a half hours north of Baghdad parlor music is making. Pools this family suffered a terrible loss April 5 US warplanes strafed the village and a man. The seventeen month old Hyder Al Ahmad who lost his mother. His three sisters and his two Brothers this is one stop on a door to door survey and a country the size of her home state California. She's doing a headcount of the injured and dead in its number of represented cakes suffers like me are presently. Father a mother lots of light eyes for what does not expecting that there would be this many capacities. While the music it is not represent the US government she's not affiliated with any big relief agency. She's a loan peace activist 26 years old who's taken it upon herself to help the civilian victims of war a hundred. Driven 39 US servicemen and women were killed between the start of the conflict and may first when President Bush declared the end of hostilities. And their continued to be you casualties almost every day including today. But there is still no official tally of how many Iraqi lives were lost military or civilian. To military kept its records secret. And many of the civilian documents are on reliable. Each hospital keeps a hand written book of the dead there's no master list. In the hospital records are in disarray after the flood of casualties during the war and the looters who came after. Iraq cemeteries are poorly marked. Many burials were not documented it all and it's difficult to tell the military from the civilian dead. Because of the tactics Saddam's forces employed during the war. Dressing in civilian clothes. Firing from civilian neighborhoods. Putting civilian lives at risk. Takes time. That's really can't do you remember today or tomorrow and in a few months were confident that after doing sex acts of surveying will be able to answer Marcus questions. At least she's formed her own nonprofit and the campaign for innocent victims in conflict that it short. She's organized a 150 surveyors to fan out across Iraq so far they've documented 620. Civilian deaths in Baghdad. 256. Larger 425. And Karbala as many as 11100 investor Rea. It's only. Preliminary. The work is painstaking meeting one on one. People whose lives have been through it line. In Amman Jordan in March she attended the funeral of the man believed to be the first civilian casualty in the war a Jordanian taxi driver killed the first night of the bombing while the US ambassador sent a letter she was the only American to personally offer condolences to the grieving family. Now every day she meets with new victims. Eyewitness able I'll let them. I was in session and bit off some light therapy. Tank it can to help you get your information. Yes and number it is important but not as important as making sure that we recognize each numbers of human life. Ultimately what we can do as we get that long term medical hair. We can get their homes rebuilt. And possibly. It's a hard possibility but what we're working for some economic assistance. Marla resume his ultimate goal is to win compensation for these people. No easy. There are any sort of historical precedence for compensation. For civilian casualties. Direct compensation is aware that there is government doesn't like to use that have to pass and it brings and 400 line and. Music helped set a precedent by successfully lobbying the US congress to help innocent victims of the war in Afghanistan. We don't have to cause preparations we don't have to Colin. Compensation we just causes as part of the mission. There we try to put as many pieces back together is possible. In Afghanistan routed as survey confirmed. 824. Civilian deaths although she believes at least double that number died in the war she convinced senator Patrick Leahy to insert language in an appropriations bill allocating three point 75 million dollars to help the Afghan victims. Morrow was eco. Somebody out there is saying. Wait everybody is really what's happening you better know about this. We have whistle blowers. Can industry. Maybe some tragedy whistle blowers and foreign policy. Can I feel and act but in Iraq one person however determined is bound to have trouble getting the attention of the US military which has its hands full. They believe me. Have just wading through the bureaucracy we wish here we find out where that's being done. Can take days. Marla ruse a case is also chronically short on money she now has fifty dollars left and her bank account. So she's applying for a grant from the US Agency for International Development. While other aid agencies are still getting organized in Iraq still tentatively working out the difficult security situations. While over the ticket is already out there. Trying as much as one person can to help us this is David Wright for Nightline inspector. And.

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