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[casi] Thousands at risk of cholera in Iraq, UK and US neglecting the needs of civilians

Thousands at risk of cholera in Iraq, UK and US neglecting the needs of

Baghdad, Iraq, 11 June 2003 (Merlin) - As raw sewage from open drains
contaminates drinking water, temperatures soar and electricity is in short
supply, the risk of epidemic diseases such as cholera spreading in Baghdad
increases daily. Cholera is highly contagious and fatal if left untreated.
In an overcrowded city the size of Baghdad, which has 4 million inhabitants,
the health implications are enormous and Merlin, the UK-based medical aid
charity is beginning to question whether the occupying powers are serious
about protecting the health of the Iraqi people.
Geoff Prescott, Chief Executive of Merlin, said:

"As occupying powers, the US and UK have a responsibility to fulfill their
obligations under the Geneva Conventions and Hague law. Their slowness in
restoring essential services such as clean water, electricity and sanitation
is jeopardizing the lives of thousands of people."

"The conditions in some areas of Baghdad are similar to that of Basra where
more than 50 cases of cholera were recently confirmed, said Fouad Hikmat,
Merlin's Country Manager in Iraq. Diseases such as cholera breeds on poverty
and poor sanitation," he said. "Unless public services are restored quickly,
we could have an epidemic on our hands."

Merlin was one of the first NGOs to arrive in Iraq following the end of the
war in April. Its team of health and medical specialists focussed on
assessing and revitalising 137 essential primary healthcare facilities --
the most neglected area of healthcare - and hospital paediatric wards in
Baghdad and delivered emergency health kits to 19 paediatric hospitals in
the capital.


5 -- 13 Trinity Street, London SE1 1DB.
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7378 4842
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7378 4899

Merlin is a UK-based charity committed to providing healthcare for people in
crisis. We provide medical relief to people suffering as a result of
conflict, natural disaster or epidemic disease anywhere in the world,
regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.

Since our foundation in 1993, we have worked in over 30 countries including
Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Georgia, India,
Kenya, Russia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Chechnya.

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