Anti-war rallies may inspire a community to protest a war in Iraq, but the diminishing possibility of a peaceful resolution is stirring students to aid the people who would be immediately affected by war – Iraqi civilians.

Paul Wong
RYAN WEINER/Daily
LSA student Shefali Kathari donates a meal to an Iraqi family yesterday at East Quad.

During this week, students with a meal plan can contribute to relief work in Iraq without actually donating cash by sacrificing one meal credit, and giving funds for the meal to Life for Relief and Development, a Southfield-based charity organization.

The Muslim Students’ Association, which has been involved with anti-war events on campus, organized the drive. The group wanted to balance out their protests for peace with humanitarian work, MSA executive board member Rima Makhiawala said.

“Most Iraqis are victims of their government and the sanctions placed on them since the Gulf War,” Makhiawala said. “And now it’s unfortunate that people who don’t have any connections with what our government is trying to get rid of will suffer with war.”

MSA is hoping to raise $3,000 through meal donations for the non-government organization Life.

Life is working to coordinate with U.N. charity organizations in Iraq and Syria and with the U.S. government to provide blankets, water, tents, medicine and baby formulas in the event of war.

“As we speak we are trying to get the right materials to people who are needy,” Life President Khalil Jassemm said. “A war would not only result in the deaths of millions of Iraqis but it’s estimated that four million Iraqi people would be displaced and without homes.”

Although relief is needed, it has become difficult to obtain charity licenses through the U.S. government to help in Iraq, Jassemm said.

Students who donate their meals will give up their dinners on Feb. 13, but Makhiawala said students seem happy to help the cause.

“Some students are turned off by political actitives, but people are always drawn to humanitarian issues,” Makhiawala said. “I think a lot of the student body really want to get involved.”

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