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Reporters on the Job

A Ward's Measure of the War: Staff writer Dan Murphy, who returned to Baghdad on Tuesday after a month away, got a chilling glimpse of how much more violent the city has become during a visit to Yarmuk Hospital. "The horrific has become routine for the people who work there," says Dan.

In the emergency waiting rooms, tired but unruffled-looking nurses and staff picked their way through about 20 grieving men, women, and children, some in heaps on the floor, others quietly sobbing to themselves in corners. Many of the mourners had minor gashes that they hadn't thought to attend to amid their trauma, having freshly arrived from the sites of attacks.

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"Hospitals are rarely happy places, but Yarmuk today seemed like I would imagine a battlefield hospital in World War II: chaotic, overwhelmed by casualties that just keep coming, and filled with workers making do with limited resources," says Dan. "Folks there only make about $100 a month, which doesn't seem like much to have to confront so much grief and trauma."

Attendants moved a steady flow of gurneys back to the hot sunshine outside, where they washed off blood in the parking lot and readied them for the next patient.

Offering a "what can you do" shrug, a nurse turned to Dan. "I bet you'll have trouble sleeping tonight. Not us, we're Iraqis. We're used to this."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor