Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 14, 2003
Caritas Iraq pleads for help
CCODP focuses on water, food, health services
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Aid distribution was continuing in Baghdad despite heavy bombing by the U.S. led coalition but more stocks of food, medicine, non-food and hygiene items will soon be needed, said the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
In an update showing how Canadian donations are helping victims of the war, the CCODP said stockpiles of first aid kits have been depleted by 50 per cent. As well, UN and other aid agencies fear a health crisis in cities where safe drinking water is in short supply.
A CCODP spokesman told CCN that as of April 4, the organization's emergency appeal for Iraq had raised $429,000. On March 20, the development agency of the Catholic bishops of Canada sent $100,000 to aid victims of the war in Iraq. The money was channelled through Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church's Rome-based network of international aid and development agencies.
"Caritas Iraq will assist approximately 260,000 people during the coming three months," said the CCODP. "About 10 per cent of these people need urgent help."
The number of Internally Displaced People, such as refugees still living inside Iraq's borders, is increasing daily, it said. "Continued fighting forces people to leave their homes with few, if any, resources. As a result, they need practically all basic necessities."
The program for Caritas includes providing water, sanitation facilities, food and health services, and is expected to cost US$8.2 million.
Special attention is being given to the most vulnerable internal refugees, which include malnourished children under age five, nursing mothers and pregnant women.
The CCODP also noted that food rations previously available under the UN-supervised Oil for Food Program were suspended after the outbreak of hostilities. "These rations were the only source of food for about two thirds of the population," it said. In addition, the World Food Program in mid-March expected that previously distributed food rations would run out after six weeks. Most of the internally displaced people, however, are not likely to have brought the rations with them, or may have sold them to cover transportation or other costs related to their exodus, said the development agency. It said Caritas Iraq, therefore, is planning to provide food for 136,440 people per month for three months.
Caritas also estimates that 24,000 people will need urgent medical attention each month and pointed out that the health situation in Iraq was "dismal" even before the war started, with shortages of all types of medicine and medical supplies.
One of Caritas' main objectives is to prevent outbreaks of disease caused by unsanitary drinking water, said the CCODP. One of its programs includes purifying water, distributing water containers and establishing a mobile water team to inspect conditions and make improvements where necessary.
Contributions to help victims of the war in Iraq can be made by phoning (1-888-664- DEVP) or by mailing a cheque to: Development and Peace, 5633 Sherbrooke St. East, Montreal (QC), H1N 1A3. The cheque should be marked "Development and Peace - Iraq."