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[casi] the US army does it again! bomblets are the same color!

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Press Centre

News Note

2 April 2003: Latest on Iraq Relief Efforts

. Concern that food ration and bomblet 'BLU 97' are identical in colour
. Water supplies slowly getting through in South

Briefing by Geoff Keele, UNICEF Communication Officer, IRAQ

AMMAN, 2 April 2003 - UNICEF is deeply concerned by reports about the
Humanitarian Daily Rations, or HDR, being handed out by coalition forces in
southern Iraq. The rations are covered in bright yellow plastic wrap which
is identical to the colour of a bomblet currently being air-dropped called
BLU 97.

These are the same rations that were air dropped in Afghanistan, where the
military eventually changed the wrapping to blue. This was done after the UN
highlighted the dangers of presenting food in the same colour as ordinance.
These rations are not being air dropped. Because of their identical
colouring, however, children can confuse the ration and unexploded

Confusing unexploded ordinance with food places children at huge risk of
injury or death. UNICEF urges coalition forces to urgently change the colour
of these rations.

Clean water vital as war and heat take their toll on children

In what UNICEF hopes is an improving pattern of access in Southern Iraq, a
convoy of 5 trucks is on its way to the town of Safwan - with clean water
and emergency health kits. Safwan is south of Basra, and UNICEF estimates
that thousands of people in the town are in need of clean water.

The trucks are each carrying 35 thousand litres of water and will also
deliver emergency health kits, each of which meets the needs of 1,000 people
for 3 months.

As tankers enter towns, UNICEF is learning of new needs. Drivers who reached
Zubair yesterday told UNICEF of about 20,000 people in nearby Um Kail, who
have not yet been reached by any aid. The drivers will return to Um Kail
tomorrow with water and emergency health kits.

Delivering to Zubair on April 2, a health worker said that the heat was
already taking a toll on children and that there are more and more cases of
children suffering from diarrhoea. This is a seasonal phenomenon in Iraq,
but in a country where the average child suffers as many as 15 bouts of
severe diarrhoea a year, the effects of current conditions and contaminated
water is crippling.

Access to clean water is now vital, and very simply, life saving.

The Zubair local health worker also said that the hospital was running out
of basic supplies, and gave the drivers a list of more than 50 medicines
that it is in need of.

Clearly, with every new truck and every new delivery that makes it to those
in need, UNICEF is taking heart. But UNICEF also realises that it is only
meeting the needs of a fraction of those in need of assistance and looks
forward to reaching more children, in more places, more quickly.

For further information:
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF New York, 1 212 326 7261, Cell 1 917 969 6462
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF New York, 1 212 326 7426
Jo Bailey, UNICEF New York, 1 212 326 7412

For interviews in the region, write or call directly to the UNICEF NewsDesk
in Amman:

(962-79) 50422058

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