Aussie ambassador in Baghdad stays on
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
WHEN Foreign Minister Julie Bishop rang her ambassador in Baghdad and offered to evacuate her and the small team left at the embassy, Lyndall Sachs responded without hesitation: She was staying.
The steadfast mission chief told the minister it was the job she lived for.
The Sydney-born diplomat, who is still there representing Australian interests in Baghdad, claimed she was not yet prepared to abandon her post despite many embassy officials having already been withdrawn.
Ms Sachs said that the situation changed daily: “It is a very fluid environment at the moment. We have been in lockdown for three weeks, which means we have only been out of the compound for mission-essential moves around Baghdad.”
Australian embassy officials on the ground in Iraq are now outnumbered by Australians who have joined up with terror groups and opposition forces in Iraq.
Ms Bishop confirmed Ms Sachs and a small group of staff were well protected by the embassy’s private security contractors.
Ms Sachs said a “contingency plan” was in place for an emergency evacuation of staff if needed.
“People in Baghdad are just trying to get on with having a normal life,’’ Ms Sachs said.
“People here have a high tolerance but, yes, they are worried. Most people in Baghdad just want to have a normal life, going to work, taking kids to school.”
“I find this job, this place, fascinating …. I like Iraqis,” Ms Sachs said.
“What I really am interested in is how countries can assist other countries to prevent conflict.
I do enjoy the work.”
Ms Sachs said it could often be difficult being a woman in an Islamic state but there were also advantages.
“For instance I get to speak to women here in Iraq. That’s 50 per cent of the population.”