Iran + 6 more

ACT Appeal Middle East: Emergency Preparedness - MEEP-21 (Rev.1)

Originally published


Appeal Target: $4,947,688
Requested from ACT network: $4,321,780

Geneva, 14 March 2003

Dear Colleagues,

Possible military intervention in Iraq threatens to have devastating consequences on an already fragile social infrastructure, with a possible ‘domino-effect’ on the immediate neighbourhood and possibly the whole of the Middle East.

The ACT Co-ordinating office and ACT members have been actively engaged in preparedness efforts since October 2002. To be able to respond to the potential emergency in the region, ACT Co-ordinating office has called upon ACT members to explore how to best prepare humanitarian assistance in the event of war. Recognising the importance of preparedness and effective contingency planning, ACT members have mapped out their capacities in Iraq and neighbouring countries in question and kept their joint contingency plans updated. Some pre-positioning and stock-piling of relief commodities has already started in Iraq and Jordan.

ACT International is stepping up its planning efforts, particularly in Iraq, to ensure that ACT members are prepared for the humanitarian consequences of possible military activities.

This revised appeal integrates ACT member-agencies’ planning efforts at the regional level with focus on Iraq. The members seek financial support for continued procurement and stockpiling of relief items which would be used in the event of a war in Iraq. Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Lutheran World Federation/Department of World Service (LWF/DWS), ACT Netherlands/ICCO and Christian Aid appeal to the ACT alliance to support their preparedness efforts for what may turn into an emergency of great magnitude.

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested
Total US$
Less: pledges/ Contr. Recd.
Balance requested from ACT Network

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
PO Box 2600
1211 Geneva 2

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

ACT Web Site address:

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.

Thor-Arne Prois
Director, ACT


There is a fear that any military intervention on Iraq might lead to major population movements and displacement, both inside and outside Iraq. The long-standing humanitarian crisis in Iraq would be exacerbated and could severely affect the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon, which are the most likely to see an influx of people seeking refuge.

The most likely scenario, if Iraq is bombed, is that there will be a significant movement of Iraqi refugees to the Jordanian border as well as to the Syrian, Iranian, Turkish borders and possibly some to the Lebanese border. The Jordanian Government has indicated that they will close the border and that no refugees will be allowed into Jordan. If this happens, the refugees will initially have to be assisted in Iraq and/or in the ‘no man’s land’ between the borders of Iraq and Jordan.

Depending on the intensity and scope of the strike, the damages are expected to be quite serious. In addition to the government and other public structures and infrastructure, private sector industries, individual homes, shops and residential areas may be hit, forcing the population to run for shelter and safer areas.

Wherever people flee, there will be a very serious impact on the lives not only of the fleeing Iraqi population, but on the population in the host areas/countries as well.

As a result of the many expected casualties, dead or wounded, a serious degradation in the health sector is expected - in this respect Iraq is already extremely vulnerable due to the long duration of the sanctions leading to lack of appropriate health care. Possible host countries themselves currently have an up-hill fight with the cost of health care, but they would then have to worry about drastically increased costs and an extra burden on the system with enforced guests sharing resources with them. The living conditions of the people will be drastically affected and the pressure on the provision of basic daily needs will increase the suffering of the guests and hosts alike, specially the vulnerable groups of children, women and the elderly.

For more details please refer to ACT agencies’ background information in the revised proposals.


In response to the unfolding situation in the region, the ACT Co-ordinating office has taken a set of initiatives aimed at addressing the situation and calling for appropriate preparedness efforts.

In October and November 2002 the ACT CO deployed two CAT (Co-ordination Assessment Team) teams to Jordan and Iraq. The teams brought back important findings and recommendations which set the pace for further action. Both reports have been distributed to the ACT alliance.

To date, the ACT CO has held two strategic planning meetings in Amman, Jordan with all ACT members concerned. The objectives of these meetings were to map out ACT capacities in the region and agree on strategy for emergency preparedness and possible response.

ACT International has established a regional office for the Middle East in Amman. The office is based with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan which will lease the offices to ACT/MECC for the period of 15 months. In addition to MECC, ACT members NCA, CWS, CAID have benefited from office space in the church centre.

Following the first co-ordination meeting in Amman held in December 2002, the ACT CO installed a Regional Co-ordinator, based in Amman, to serve as a liaison between ACT CO and ACT members on the ground. The Regional Co-ordinator will assist members with contingency planning, offer advice on preparedness activities, and serve as a liaison with the international community (UN and NGOs). The Regional Co-ordinator is being seconded by Hungarian Interchurch Aid. ACT member the Lutheran World Federation has seconded a Finance Advisor to be available to ACT members on the ground for finance and reporting related questions.

In addition, ACT CO has agreed with implementing members in the region to establish national fora in each country in question. NCA has been asked to start off the process in Iraq, while MECC will call for national fora in Jordan, Lebanon and Iran.

The ACT Communications Department has contacted communicators from its roster to plan and prepare for possible deployments into Iraq in the event of a war.

Other special efforts:

  • ACT issued a statement relating to humanitarian principles in the event of a war in Iraq

  • ACT CO staff made several visits with the ACT Regional Co-ordinating Office and the ACT members on the ground

  • communication work: digital images, stories and updates posted on the ACT web site

  • coordination with the UN and NGOs

  • coordination with the WCC

  • daily backstopping


The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) is a fellowship of churches related to the main stream of the modern ecumenical movement, the same that gave birth to the World Council and other regional ecumenical councils throughout the world.

MECC nurtures within the churches the spirit and resources for service in the Middle East, an arena for economic, political and often violent conflict. The Council's engagement in emergency relief has been targeting the poor, the oppressed and the exploited, the deprived and the displaced in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. The relief actions and emergency interventions of MECC were directed towards the affected communities, regardless of their religious, ethnic and political affiliations.

In Iraq and Jordan, the Ecumenical Relief Service (ERS) has laid concrete foundations for MECC's role as a mediator in peace making and reconciliation. Relief operations were carried out during periods of intense needs, implemented by a team of highly trained staff.

As relief activities are phased out, stress is placed upon rehabilitation services and development. These included income-generating projects for churches and church-related institutions, as well as other projects (agricultural development) and health training.

The former program of ERS has been transformed into an advocacy program. This program ensures the co-ordination and management of the MECC initiatives through advocacy against the sanctions on Iraq.

I. POSSIBLE SCENARIOS (project specific)


As a result of an open warfare, collateral damage to infrastructure is expected. Public buildings as well as homes could suffer total destruction or damage. The worst scenario could result in a mass movement of uprooted people (IDPs inside Iraq and refugees towards the borders of neighbouring countries). Also, the possibility of land intervention by foreign troops could lead to this scenario. Churches and Mosques are expected to give protection to a certain number of families as a result of street fighting in their localities, as it is expected that these will set up camps on their premises should the number of IDPs be great.


The Syrian Contingency plan will take into consideration the possible movement of uprooted people as well as military deserters towards the locality of the Bou-Kamal border post, somewhere near the Euphrates River basin. The UNHCR and the Syrian Government are expected to set-up camps to accommodate incoming refugees to the region, which are expected to be relatively small due to its great distance from Baghdad and populated areas to the east. It is difficult to assess the needs, as government or UNHCR officials are divulging no information. However, both respond negatively to whether a unilateral or bilateral contingency is being prepared or not.

Another possible camp location, which could face a larger exodus from the northern part of Iraq is towards Al Hol Camp where the majority of Iraqi Christians are expected to move in from the area of Mosul and its surroundings. Also a movement from Tikrit and its surrounding is expected should the Iraqi regime topple. Currently, the camp is not capable of accommodating more than 20,000. However, it is highly likely that over 100,000 refugees will arrive at this camp creating quite a challenge for the UNHCR.

During the 1991 exodus, the Syrian government granted the UNHCR permission to set up camp on its soil therefore, it is expected that it will do the same should war result in peoples' movement towards Syria.

A third site is likely to be Al Yaroubia Camp. A location in the far north area of Syria, not far from the joint Iraqi and Turkish borders. The location of this possible camp is ideal for Kurds fleeing from Iraqi Kurdistan should military action erupt whether internally (between Iraqi factions) or between the Turkish Army and Iraqi Kurds and/or the PKK. Although the number of refugees expected will be smaller than those who might arrive to Al Hol Camp, the figure will not be less than thousands (+/-10,000).


Since the government of Jordan has reiterated its decision to close its borders with Iraq except for third country nationals, the Inter-Agency Steering Committee of HARP (Humanitarian Action Response Plan) plans to respond to an eventual exodus of refugees either in the no-man's land between the borders of Iraq and Jordan or somewhere on Iraqi soil next to the Jordanian border. In this eventuality, the Government of Jordan will facilitate UN and NGO operations across the border, which lies around 450 km east of Amman.


It is expected that the Government of Iran will declare its borders with Iraq closed, but previous experience tells us that the Shiite population in the south of Iraq and Kurds in the north will cross at will without hindrances. The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) is expected to respond to these eventualities at major junctures of its western front. Its structure permits it to take action at the first sign of movement of refugees.


Depending on the scope and dimension of the war operations, the affected Iraqi population may reach several millions (in the worst case scenario) both in terms of internal and external displacement.

The following figures will reflect the number of refugees expected in each of the following countries:

(Scenario 1)
(Scenario 2)
(Scenario 3)
500,000 (Christians & Sunnis)
500,000 (Christians & Sunnis)
500,000 (Kurds & Shiites)
10,000 (infiltrators from refugees in Syria).

MECC Human Resources

A team of four MECC staff together with six temporary staff will be in charge of the implementation and follow up, assisted by other teams of church nominated committees and field volunteers. MECC has assigned several senior staff to co-ordinate the relief work in Aleppo, Damascus, Baghdad, Teheran and Beirut.

Including staff, 25 persons are now available to help in any emergency operation in the different countries. They include staff and church members trained by the MECC/SRDM over the past years. Other church youth volunteers from the region will be trained soon. A list of these volunteers is being prepared, thus allowing MECC to respond 24/24 and 7/7. Most will be ready to travel to any of the following countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan.

Through its local partners in Lebanon (PVOs), MECC will secure another 8-10 persons experienced in fieldwork.

The procurement will preferably and most likely take place in the region to activate the local market and to reduce costly international transport and warehouse costs. Churches will provide premises for stockpiling where possible. Other warehouses (ICRC/UN) will be used where appropriate or rented when required.


The overall goal of the proposed response is to enable and prepare the most vulnerable among the affected population to cope with the effects of possible attack on Iraq. In doing so, MECC aims at sustaining people’s lives and reducing their sufferings and distress that may be caused by a war in Iraq.


  • Stockpile basic food commodities

  • Stockpile medicines and medical material to hospitals and medical centres.

  • Secure clean drinking water.

  • Prevent health hazards and transmission of diseases.

  • Provide shelters, bedding, heaters & kitchen utensils.



The Contingency plan for Iraq has already been initiated by MECC. Its elements include contacts with the Ministry of Awqaf and some of the local churches where some food will be stockpiled. The quantity of each of the items will be determined by the cash amount at hand to permit the purchase from the local market. It has been recommended not to ship food from outside of Iraq during this phase.

In Baghdad, eight church locations were identified to serve their congregations and surroundings whether Christians or Muslims; therefore, stockpiling and distribution will take place on the premises of these churches. These locations will serve as relief centers. Four other centers were identified within the churches of Basra, four other centers in Mosul and four in Kirkuk.

Focus will remain with emergency relief in shelters and hospitals. Basic relief items to be distributed will include:

Food: The monthly food package is similar to the one distributed by the Iraqi government under the ‘Food for Oil’ program. Each person will receive the following items:

  • 9kgs of flour
  • 3kgs of rice
  • 2kgs of sugar
  • 1.250kgs of cooking oil
  • 0.250kgs of tea
  • 0.250kgs of powder milk
  • tomato paste
  • canned meat
  • processed cheese

These items can be purchased from the Iraqi market as ample quantities are available. MECC will be able to purchase the quantities needed, stockpile and distribute when required. Church volunteers will help the head of the MECC designated staff, the local church leader and the church council in packing and carrying out the distribution as previously planned. Reporting on the distribution of these materials all over the country will be made on daily basis (or when appropriate) to MECC Baghdad, who in turn will report all activities to MECC in Jordan.

Non-food items will include the following:

  • stoves/heaters
  • kitchen sets
  • First Aid kits
  • Hygiene kits

In addition to the above, Diakonie Emergency Aid Germany has committed to continue efforts on providing medicines for hospitals in Iraq through MECC.

MECC will make special efforts to upscale the existing structures in Iraq. In addition to the focal point for Iraq based in Beirut, the current staff includes one existing staff member in Baghdad and a number of trained volunteers. MECC has already started hiring supporting staff to be based in Baghdad. They include but are not limited to the following positions:

  • accountant
  • reporting officer/communication
  • administrative assistant
  • 8 emergency workers

This program in its emergency phase will target 3,200 families (16,000 persons) for three months.


MECC is a member of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee which is in close contact with the Government of Jordan (GOJ), the Jordanian National Red Crescent Society (JNRCS) on behalf of local NGOs, and ICRC/IFRC.

The Steering Committee, which was formed many years back, updates its contingency plan whenever necessary. The last update was made in June of 2002 to respond to possible military action by the USA if Iraq had refused permission for the UN Arms Inspectors to return to Iraq and possible request for disarmament.

The continued threat forced the Steering Committee to look more closely at its contingency plans. Consequently, MECC Jordan forewarned its Head Office on the developments and informed ACT of a possible and imminent military action that could destabilise the Middle East. Sectorial groups were formed under the leadership of this Steering Committee, where other international NGOs discussed co-operation and co-ordination. MECC kept its local partners informed and held meetings to exchange views on a co-ordinated response.

MECC Jordan has assembled a recently formed ecumenical committee for Uprooted People, which will assist the MECC Office and its Emergency Relief Co-ordinator in responding to the refugee situation in Jordan and to any emerging needs. Some members of this committee have already had training on Emergency and Disaster Response while others will be trained with regional volunteers on Sphere Standards.

Basic life-saving assistance will be provided:

The set up of tents and bedding (including blankets) will be co-ordinated with other NGOs operating in the vicinity or within the Inter-Agency Steering Committee as is the case in Jordan.

MECC will deliver 500 tents with bedding (mattresses & blankets) to the site. One staff member (seconded from MECC Beirut), assisted by a number of volunteers will help set up these tents in a location assigned by the Camp managers.

Bedding will be delivered to refugees upon arrival.

Food and in-kind materials on a basis of once per week, for a period of 12 weeks, distribution of food items and detergents for 500 families living in shelters (average 5 persons/family). The cost of the food ration will be +/-US$50. -/per family per week.

One staff member, assisted by the church ecumenical committee (6-8 persons) will help secure the required food for the twelve weeks. It will be packed by church volunteers and distributed to the campsite by IOM logistics (as mandated by HARP).

One staff member (seconded from MECC Beirut), assisted by local church volunteers, will manage and supervise the food distribution to the 500 families at the Campsite (under MECC's mandate).

Assistance in securing drinking water and supplying some purification equipment, water tanks for distribution and water jerry cans for storage.

A staff member will co-ordinate the water segment with WHO-CEHA, NCA and the Ministry of Water in Jordan. NCA is expected to deliver one Water Purification Unit to the campsite, set up the equipment and train several people on the operation and maintenance of the unit. Empty jerry cans will be distributed to the 500 tents under MECC's mandate.

The same staff member, assisted by local church volunteers working on the shelter and food segment will help distribute empty water jerry cans to the 500 tents (under MECC's mandate).

Medicines and medical equipment will be stockpiled and pre-positioned for a possible distribution to hospitals and/or health clinics in co-ordination with the ministries of health in Iraq and in refugee hosting countries, as well as with the UN agencies (mainly WHO) concerned and other NGOs operating in the field.

MECC is part of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee in Jordan. It has updated its Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (HARP) and has set-up eight Sectorial Groups (SG) to respond to issues in the field of health, education, housing/shelter, food/nutrition, sanitation/water, logistics, registration/protection and security. Meetings for these SGs are ongoing and the MECC co-ordinator has been relaying information on a regular basis and was consulted on every aspect of the work.


To be bought from the local market and stockpiled at the Syrian Orthodox Bishopric in Hassaka:

  • 500 food baskets (based on the "Food for Oil" ration).
  • Baby formula milk

MECC, assisted by members of the local church council in Hassaka will secure the materials in kind. Local church volunteers will pack and deliver the food baskets to a designated number of refugees who will be nominated by the UNHCR.

Should the situation flare up, MECC Syria would further respond by supplying some or all of the following materials that could be bought locally:

  • 1000 food baskets (based on the "Food for Oil" ration) - MECC will prepare food baskets for 500 families nominated by UNHCR for duration of 12 weeks. Baby formula milk will be added for infants. MECC staff, assisted by a local church committee in Hassaka, will buy all materials locally. Local church volunteers will pack and deliver the food baskets to the two campsites where they will be distributed to refugee families nominated by UNHCR.

  • Clothing - Winter clothes, including pullovers, scarves and pants will be purchased locally and delivered to the needy. This is a one-time service.

  • Empty Water Jerry cans - 4,000 plastic jerry cans will be purchased locally and stockpiled for an emergency delivery to campsite for distribution among the 500 refugee families nominated by UNHCR in each camp. Each family would receive four empty jerry cans to use, 3 for potable water and one for kerosene. This is a one-time service.

  • Heaters (doubling for cookers) - 1,000 heaters will be bought locally and delivered to campsite for distribution among the 500 refugee families nominated by UNHCR in each camp. These same heaters will be used to cook food. This is a one-time service.

  • Kitchen Utensils - Kitchen utensils will be bought locally and stockpiled for a possible delivery to campsite for distribution among the 500 refugee families nominated by UNHCR in each camp. This is a monthly service for a duration of three months.

  • Detergents - An adequate quantity of detergents will be bought locally and planned for an emergency delivery to campsite for distribution among the 500 refugee families nominated by UNHCR in each camp. This is a one-time service.

  • School Kits - MECC will supply 6,000 school kits to the local church committees to distribute to students at both camps. These kits could either be supplied by a partner agency or bought locally. Either way they will be pre-positioned for a delivery to campsite for distribution among the 500 refugee families nominated by UNHCR in each camp. This is a one-time service.

Northeast of Syria

Phase One Staff:

In the north of Syria, MECC will install a contact person for the north and north-east. He will have one staff member working with him, who will assist him in the local program implementation.

Phase Two Staff:

Six trained church volunteers (3 from Aleppo and 3 from Hassaka) will assist the MECC person. The Primate of the Syrian Orthodox Church (an MECC member) in Hassaka, Al Jazira and Euphrates Basin has volunteered the premises of his churches and offered help in responding to any possible humanitarian need that may arise. The Metropolitan himself was very active in responding to Al Hol Camp's needs during the previous war. He has placed one office on the premises of his Al Hassaka Bishopric to be the centre of MECC's relief operation.

MECC will employ one staff who will help in communications, accountancy and needs assessment. Several local church councils will be placed at the service of MECC to visit the camps and to help implement its relief response in both Al Hol Camp and Al Yaroubia Camp.

Southeast of Syria

MECC has a contact person in Damascus for this area and also for the Al Bou-Kamal border area.

Phase One Staff:

The MECC person responsible for south east Syria will be assisted by one staff member to help in the internal communications department.

Phase Two Staff:

The MECC focal person for south east Syria will be assisted by three trained church volunteers who will assist him in running the MECC's relief operation in the Al Boukamal area. Their main work will be to collect data on the refugees as well as help assess the situation in the camp. The Bishop of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, together with local church councils, will extend all assistance towards the relief of refugees. Local church volunteers, including youth and women, will assist in packing and delivering food/materials to the Camp. Already MECC has offices on the premises from where it will run the relief operations in the south east.

MECC staff from Lebanon HO will assist staff in Syria if and when required.


The procurement will preferably and most likely take place in the region to activate the local market and to reduce costly international transport and warehouse costs. Churches will provide premises for stockpiling where possible. Other warehouses (ICRC/UN) will be used where appropriate or rented when required.

The Service to Refugees, Displaced and Migrants (SRDM) team and the ICNDR staff will be co-ordinating relief work in Lebanon.

Although Lebanon Office does not expect a flow of Iraqi refugees at the initial stage, it however, expects some to trickle through the borders from Syria (a few hundred at the early stage), it is expected that the number will increase to several thousands at a much later stage.

Phase One & Two Staff

MECC HO in Lebanon staff has extensive experience in response to major disasters (civil war & Israeli Occupation of its south) and will respond to the emergency as it unfolds. The staff for both phases will be from the departments mentioned above.

MECC plans to second two of its experienced staff to help the MECC Jordan office and could dispatch several more to MECC Jordan, Syria and Iraq if the need arises.


MECC expects population movements in northern Iraq however, Turkey has set up a 10-kms deep buffer zones inside Iraqi territories to prevent PKK infiltration to south-east Turkey as in the past. The uprooted people will be guided into this zone where the Turkish Red Crescent Society will serve them. Local churches might have a structure (used during the earthquake) that could be assisted by MECC should they ask for it.

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