From the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeoch, a unilateral in Baghdad:
The rampant looting that first targeted the regime spread to embassies, hospitals, businesses and private homes yesterday. Even the Al Kindi Hospital, which performed so heroically as it dealt with appalling casualties during the bombing, was looted of beds, electrical fittings and other equipment.
In this power vacuum the marines say they are cracking down - but yesterday there was no sign of it as troops invariably watched, but did not act against the looters.
The German, Chinese and Turkish embassies were done over and the French Cultural Centre on the riverfront was stripped bare. Around the corner, guards at the French embassy nervously toyed with their Kalashnikovs after stretching layers of coiled barbed-wire around the Ottoman compound.
Every street and highway was crowded with looters taking their haul away - on trucks, in an ambulance, in cars and taxis, on foot or on wheeled office chairs which they had roped together as makeshift trolleys.
In the city, six of the government ministries they had targeted were ablaze and when I asked who owned a palatial riverfront home, its looters laughed and said: "Not us!"
A Red Cross worker is dead and two from Doctors Without Borders are missing. Arguing that US forces should confront the lawlessness, Amanda Williamson, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said: "It's not possible to distribute medical and surgical supplies or drinking water to the hospitals. The situation is chaotic and very insecure.
"At this stage they could at least do everything possible to protect vital civilian infrastructure, like hospitals and the water supply."
But in the Baghdad vacuum it's every man for himself. The military operation is insulated from the looters who, in turn, are oblivious to the fate of the likes of the informer Abu Sheik.
Having toppled the regime the challenge now facing the US and its war allies is as daunting as it is enormous. The pent-up anger, energy and frustrated ambition of millions will demand urgent proof that life after Saddam will be worth the pain of war.
From General Peter Cosgrove, Chief of the Australian Defence Force:
All Australians have been touched by the plight of the people of Iraq, particularly the residents of Baghdad, over the last few days. There is a need for a quick response to avert a significant burgeoning humanitarian problem.
Although none of our forces are directly involved in the struggle for Baghdad, the government has directed the Australian Defence Force to provide whatever assistance it can as quickly as it can.
Now, we learn that there is sufficient food and water available and that the Iraqi hospitals have adequate medical staff, however I believe that there is a severe shortage of medical supplies to treat the injured. In response to this, I've directed the release of as much contingency stocks of medical stores as possible.
From the International Committee of the Red Cross:
The ICRC in Baghdad is extremely concerned about the anarchy and general chaos prevalent in the city. Lawlessness continues to be rampant, with ambulances being stopped and looted by armed individuals. The ICRC fears that the hospitals in Baghdad are no longer functioning and have been largely deserted by staff and patients. Most Baghdadis are too terrified to leave their homes. The ICRC will carry out assessments at different hospitals in the city if and when the security situation permits.
From M�decins Sans Fronti�res
In addition to the military providing assistance, the US government has also made efforts to enlist aid organizations in support of its agenda. As an example, US-based humanitarian organizations have been prohibited from accessing Southern and Central Iraq by US sanctions, while preparations are currently being made to organize their entry into zones secured by the coalition. Our concern is that this highly visible "hearts and minds" strategy may fuel dangerous suspicions that all humanitarian activities, and international aid personnel, are identified to the US/UK coalition and working on its behalf.
The very unfortunate and disturbing reality is that, at a moment when the needs of the population are certainly increasing, access is the most difficult and activities of aid organizations are most limited. Yet, even if the intensity of the conflict were to decrease, independent access, and the respect afforded to the personnel and activities of humanitarian organizations, remains a critical concern.
It seems something more than vase-stealing is happening. The occupation is responsible for law and order under the UN charter and the Geneva conventions. Time to topple another statue?