MCC aid for Iraq arriving in Middle East, more needed

Report
from Mennonite Central Committee
Published on 17 Feb 2003
Seven 40-foot MCC containers of relief kits, blankets and comforters and school kits have arrived in the Middle East as MCC continues to pre-position humanitarian supplies in anticipation of a war in Iraq.
Still needed:

Donations to "Iraq Families at Risk Fund" -- MCC's ongoing humanitarian aid response. Donations are used to pay for the tents, blankets, shipping and distribution costs as well as future MCC responses.

(MCC is also part of "All Our Children", an inter-denominational children's health initiative in Iraq.)

Relief kits - Groups or individuals can also assemble relief kits and deliver them to MCC offices for transportation to Iraq.

Two containers of school kits, valued at $364,000 Cdn/$238,000 U.S. have already arrived in Baghdad and will be distributed to 50 schools and 12 orphanages. Five containers of relief kits, blankets and comforters, valued at $1.1 million Cdn./$750,000 U.S. have arrived at the port of Aqaba in Jordan and are on their way to Iraq. MCC's local partners in Iraq, including CARE and the Islamic Relief Agency, will distribute the supplies.

MCC has also purchased 200 tents, 3,000 blankets and 120 water bladders in Iraq and Jordan, valued at $77,000 Cdn./$50,000 U.S. The water bladders will be used to supply water to hospitals and vulnerable groups in central and southern Iraq. The tents will be used to house Iraqis forced to flee their homes if there is war.

MCC is also planning to send two containers of canned beef to Jordan, valued at $205,000 Cdn./$134,00 U.S. within the next two months. The beef will be used to help feed Iraqi refugees expected to flood into Jordan if there is a war.

The situation in Iraq is uncertain. Twelve years of economic sanctions have exhausted many Iraqi families' resources. A U.N. document estimates that millions of Iraqis will be displaced by the war and need humanitarian support. Pre-positioning humanitarian supplies before a war begins is integral to dealing successfully with a post-attack humanitarian crisis. If there is no war, the aid will still be distributed to the most vulnerable groups in Iraq.

Requests from partner agencies

MCC's response is based on requests from partner agencies working in Iraq, including the Iraqi Red Crescent and Islamic Relief Agency, based in Jordan.

In the past decade MCC has shipped approximately $6.8 million Cdn./$4.2 million U.S. worth of food and material assistance to Iraq. Most of the food has been shipped through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, including wheat flour, lentils and beans.

More than $127,000 Cdn./$88,000 U.S. in MCC assistance was used for local purchase of food and to support local emergency responses. MCC also supports a number of agriculture, education and health-related projects in Iraq and has had North American personnel in Iraq since 1998.

For more information, in Canada call 888-622-6337; in the United States call 877-517-5673.