Iraqi Conflict Masks Humanitarian Crisis
Armed violence is masking a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where eight million people nearly one in three need emergency aid, says a report released today by international agency Oxfam and NCCI, a network of aid organizations working in Iraq. The report ‘Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq says donor countries which have no troops in Iraq, including Canada, must do more to help ordinary Iraqis meet basic needs for water, sanitation, food and shelter.
According to the report:
- Four million Iraqis 15% regularly cannot buy enough to eat.
- 70% are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% in 2003.
- 28% of children are malnourished, compared to 19% before the 2003 invasion.
- 92% of Iraqi children suffer learning problems, mostly due to the climate of fear.
- More than two million people mostly women and children are displaced inside Iraq.
- A further two million Iraqis have become refugees, mainly in Syria and Jordan.
Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada, said: ‘The crisis is of an alarming scale and severity. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Malnutrition amongst children has dramatically increased. And public services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet people’s basic needs.
Despite limits imposed by the fighting and weak Iraqi institutions, the report says, much more can be done. An Oxfam survey found that over 80% of aid agencies working in Iraq could provide more relief if they had more funding. Oxfam and NCCI called on the Iraqi government to extend food parcel distribution and cash payments to the vulnerable. They also urged the government to allow local authorities to deliver aid.
‘Many Iraqi and international humanitarian organizations cannot risk accepting funding from governments that have troops in Iraq, Fox said. ‘So Canada’s aid is all the more important. Given the gravity of the crisis, Canada ought to dedicate a large proportion of its Iraq aid package to humanitarian relief
Notes to Editors:
The NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) is a network of 80 international and 200 national NGOs which provides impartial information for NGOs operating in Iraq and facilitates coordination of activity for NGOs in Disaster Relief.
Via Iraqi partners, Oxfam supports the provision of emergency assistance to internally displaced people in central and southern Iraq, the delivery of emergency medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in conflict areas, and conflict resolution between the Palestinian refugees and the Iraqi community. Oxfam also works with another international NGO to build the capacity of six Iraqi NGOs in project management, governance, peace building and conflict resolution. Because of security risks, Oxfam has not had a staff presence in Iraq since 2003.