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[casi] CARE: "The people of Iraq have suffered enough already"

(says Margaret Hassan, director of CARE Iraq)


For some reason, very little seems to get
posted about the situation of the human beings
living and suffering in Iraq. So I am posting
this report by CARE International - it covers
the last three months.

--Elga Sutter

P.S. Recently, I did a keyword check on the
archives. There were some 2,400 plus postings
on Saddam Hussein as opposed to 148 postings
on leukaemia. So I suppose your interests are

Life in Iraq three months on

8 July 2003

CARE International reflects on the humanitarian needs
of the Iraqi people three months after the fall of


Three months after the fall of Baghdad, Iraq still
faces as many problems as it did immediately after the
war, humanitarian agency CARE International said

Iraqis need to feel that life is returning to normal,
said Margaret Hassan, director of CARE Iraq, speaking
on the eve of the three-month anniversary of the fall
of Baghdad. They need to feel safe and they need basic
services like water, healthcare and electricity.
Restoration of security and public services are

Organisations like CARE continue to provide
life-saving assistance and essential short-term aid
amid the instability and uncertainty, but it is almost
impossible to provide sustainable solutions.

Unsafe streets affect all walks of life

The security situation in Iraq is getting worse, not
better. It is the biggest impediment to delivering
effective humanitarian aid. Murders and carjackings
are common. The frenzy of looting that followed the
war is over, but theft is still a serious problem for
aid agencies.

In one healthcare centre, staff asked CARE not to
supply high-protein biscuits for malnourished children
for fear that these supplies would attract looters.
CARE has been improving the security of centres by
repairing doors, windows and locks.

CARE continues to deliver aid in this environment, but
it is dangerous. We are now working throughout the
country and are starting work in Ramadi, one of the
most unsafe regions. Humanitarian workers travelling
about the country are at risk of injury or death from
crossfire, banditry and carjackings. Most recent
attacks have targeted Coalition forces, but CARE staff
take every precaution to avoid being caught in any
danger, travelling in unmarked vehicles outside
Baghdad and at restricted times.

Without electricity, water and communications, people

Water, waste treatment, hospitals and factories in
Iraq all depend on electricity. The risk of a health
crisis grows as clean drinking water remains scarce,
temperatures routinely exceed 40 degrees and hospitals
and healthcare centres struggle to provide treatment
to sick people.

Public anxiety and dissatisfaction are growing in the
absence of any clear signs that services will be
restored. It is essential that Iraqis working in the
civil service are paid fully and regularly by the
Coalition Provisional Authority. Without them, public
services will continue to work poorly and nothing will
be achieved.

Since 23 June, electricity shortages in Baghdad have
been severe. In many parts of the city, there was no
electricity at all for 72 hours and, since then, many
people have had electricity for just 2 hours per day.
There is also no functioning communications network.
Iraqis remain isolated from the outside world.

Hospitals and communities need clean water and
healthcare now. The risk of cholera and other disease
outbreaks remains high. WHO and a handful of NGOs like
CARE are trying to prevent epidemics by establishing
surveillance systems, rehabilitating laboratory
testing centres and re-establishing immunisation

The UN and NGOs are working to ensure clean water runs
in hospitals and communities. CARE and the ICRC have
completed repairs to more than 60 water installations
around the country. CARE is also training operators in
80 water treatment installations and six sewage
treatment plants in the 14 governorates of central and
southern Iraq. However, longer-term repairs to be
undertaken by the Provisional Authority will take at
least a year.

CARE has conducted emergency repairs in 100 primary
healthcare centres in Iraq in the past three months,
which has allowed them to open their doors and
function at the most basic level. Directly after
bombing ceased, we also delivered two-months worth of
food and hygiene supplies to all 97 hospitals in the
centre and south of Iraq. This is emergency support.
So much more is needed.

I wish I could say that the suffering has ended, but
the problems that were there immediately following the
war are still making life difficult for the Iraqi
people, said Hassan, who has lived in Iraq for more
than 30 years. Without security and basic services, we
will only see things getting worse for everyone. It
doesn't need to be this way. The people of Iraq have
suffered enough already.

CARE in Iraq: CARE International established a
presence in Iraq in 1991 following the Gulf War. It is
the only international NGO to have maintained
continuous programmes in the centre and south of Iraq.
Since 1991, CAREs programmes have provided
humanitarian assistance to over seven million people -
one-third of the Iraqi population - focusing on
rebuilding, repairing and maintaining water and
sanitation systems and rebuilding and refurbishing
hospitals and clinics.

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