Iran + 4 more

CWS Emergency Appeal: Iraq conflict response

Appeal Number: 6812
Appeal Amount: $1,552,569
Situation Report


A U.S. led military campaign against Iraq will have a devastating effect on the country's already fragile infrastructure and threatens dire consequences to stability in neighboring counties and throughout the Middle East. Among the many fears about military intervention in Iraq is forced population movements and displacement, both inside and outside Iraq. The UN estimates more than 1.4 million refugees and as many as 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of war.

The long-standing humanitarian crisis in Iraq will be exacerbated, consequentially affecting neighboring countries--Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon-- where displaced persons will most likely seek refuge.

The intensity and scope of military action will cause catastrophic damage to government and other public institutions and infrastructure, private sector industries, homes and businesses. Mass injury and death will seriously strain the capacity of health systems throughout the region. Due to the long period of international sanctions, healthcare in Iraq is an already vulnerable institution.

The impact of war felt by displaced Iraqis in need of food and shelter will also affect people in the countries/areas who host them. An influx of refugees will deteriorate conditions in host countries struggling with limited resources and insufficient healthcare. Conditions for the affected populations will be adversely affected and the pressure on the provision of basic daily needs will increase the suffering of both refugees and hosts-- including women, children and the elderly.



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 (internally displaced persons -- IDPs -- inside Iraq and refugees towards the borders of neighboring 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 they will set up camps on their premises should the number of IDPs be great.


Preparations are being made for movements of uprooted people and military deserters towards the locality of the Bou-Kamal border post, near the Euphrates River basin. Although some distance from Baghdad, UNHCR and the Syrian government will set-up camps to accommodate incoming refugees to the region.

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.

The area of Mosul is another possible camp location in between the northern part of Iraq and Al Hol Camp where Iraqi Christians are expected to move and additional movement from Tikrit region is expected should the Iraqi regime topple. Currently, the camp is not capable of accommodating more than 20,000. However, it is anticipated that over 100,000 refugees will arrive at this camp potentially overwhelming the UNHCR.

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 internally or between the Turkish Army and Iraqi Kurds and/or the PKK. Al Yaroubia Camp expects several thousand refugees.


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 shows that the Shiite population in the south of Iraq and Kurds in the north will be able to 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 military action, the affected Iraqi population may reach several million (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)

Emergency Appeal

CWS is responding through its long-time partner, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), which has already mapped out its capacities in Iraq and neighboring countries. Prior to the war, some pre-positioning and stockpiling of relief supplies has already begun in Iraq and Jordan.

CWS has already airlifted 4,500 blankets, valued at $19,170, to MECC in Amman Jordan.

In a separate and continuing effort, CWS has been part of a multi-agency effort * "All Our Children" to provide medical supplies to Iraqi children. That appeal-- #6801 for $1 million was expanded Feb. 7 - See link

This campaign, "All Our Children," continues the long-term commitment of CWS and its partners to assist with ongoing humanitarian needs in Iraq, regardless of what may happen militarily in the coming weeks. (CWS has provided some $3 million in the last five years for humanitarian assistance in Iraq.)

The campaign assumes that whatever happens in Iraq, there will still be a need for medicine/health related items in Iraqi health service institutions, particularly in improving curative health services for Iraqi children. During the last 20 years, the children of Iraq have suffered at the hands of both internal and external forces.

The Gulf War in 1991 and more than a decade of sanctions have followed on the heels of a protracted Iraqi war with Iran during the 1980s. Estimates of the number of children who have died run from 500,000 to more than one million. A new war in Iraq would be catastrophic to Iraq's 13 million children, already highly vulnerable due to prolonged economic sanctions.

In summary, Iraqi children are at grave risk of starvation, disease, death and psychological trauma.

CWS ERP International Consultant Steve Weaver has been seconded, since October 2002, to the office of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Amman, Jordan, which is serving as the coordinating office for the "All Our Children" campaign. Weaver will be the focal point, in cooperation with MCC, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), long-time partner of CWS, and other local partners, for the implementation of this effort.

In addition CWS has provided $308,000 worth of school kits to MCC, which are positioned in Baghdad, Iraq, for distribution to children recipients.


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.



In Baghdad, eight church locations were identified to serve their congregations and surrounding areas 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 more centers have been identified in each of the following areas: Basra, Mosul, and 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

Non-food items will include the following:
  • stoves/heaters
  • kitchen sets
  • First Aid kits
  • Hygiene kits

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 the network that a possible and imminent military action that could destabilize the Middle East.

Sectorial groups were formed under the leadership of this Steering Committee, where other international NGOs discussed cooperation and coordination. MECC kept its local partners informed and held meetings to exchange views on a coordinated response.

MECC Jordan has assembled a recently formed ecumenical committee for Uprooted People, which will assist the MECC Office and its Emergency Relief Coordinator 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 coordinated with other NGOs operating in the vicinity.

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.

MECC will coordinate 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.

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.

- Medicines and medical equipment will be stockpiled and pre-positioned for a possible distribution to hospitals and/or health clinics in coordination with the ministries of health in Iraq and in refugee hosting countries, as well as with the UN agencies and NGOs.


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" rations)
  • 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.

As the situation develops, MECC Syria will respond further by supplying some or all of the following materials that can be bought locally:

  • 1000 food baskets (based on the "Food for Oil" ration) - for 500 families selected by UNHCR for duration of 12 weeks. Baby formula milk will be added for infants.

  • 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. Each family will receive four empty jerry cans, 3 for potable water and one for kerosene. This is a one-time service.

  • Heaters (doubling for cookers) * 1,000 heaters bought locally and delivered to campsite for distribution among the 500 refugee families. 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. This is a monthly service for 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. This is a one-time service.

  • School Kits - MECC will supply 6,000 school kits to the local church commitees 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 had set up a 10-kms deep buffer zones inside Iraqi territories to prevent PKK infiltration to south-east Turkey in the past. The uprooted people will be guided into this zone there 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.


The needs will certainly exceed the capacity of the affected communities. They will be deprived of their resources and incapacitated by the situation. They will be in need of relief, health care, shelter, counseling and support.

The target communities that will benefit from MECC support are the most vulnerable victims living in shelters inside Iraq and in camps/centers in neighboring countries where they have taken refuge. MECC will addressthe arising needs of its targeted communities regardless of their gender, religious or political affiliation. They will include:

  • Children, women and elderly
  • Families staying in shelters
  • IDPs and Refugees
  • Others (Third World Nationals)


Implementation: Initially for 12 weeks, extendable

Closing: 12 to 18 months or when stability returns to the region.


MECC has been working for the last few weeks with local partners, church leaders, NGOs and governments to study the possibilities for intervention. They all welcome collaboration, possibly joint assessment of needs and co-ordinated response.

As a member of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee in Jordan, MECC co-ordinates its role with partners as well as with other international NGOs operating in Jordan. It has been a catalyst in informing other partners through CWS and ACT-Geneva.

In Iraq, several aid organizations are planning their responses as well and have already undertaken some preparedness activities. They are working in collaboration with the Islamic Relief Agency and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. Other agencies are still surveying possible needs and fields of involvement. MECC has a considerable co-ordination on the field level, especially with Caritas Iraq who is operating through the Chaldean Church (an MECC member Church).




Relief centers * maintenance: 2,000

Generators, water pumps (18 centers + 4 offices @2000/unit): 46,200

Water supply Baghdad (50 wells at $100): 5,000

Tank-Truck (40 Mosul, 40 Kirkuk at $150): 12,000

Food supplies ($50/family): 480,000

First Aid Kits (2,000 at $5): 10,000

Stoves/Heaters (3,200 at $42): 134,400

Hygiene items (16,000 at $5): 80,000

Jerrycans (10,000 at $2): 20,000

Kitchen utensils: 10,000

Transportation/Handling: 30,000

Sub-total IRAQ: 829,600


Stock-piling of relief items: 279,484

Material Transport, Storage: 53,284

Office Capital Equipment: 4,560

Administration and Support: 51,774

Sub-total JORDAN: 389,102


Stock-piling of relief items: 315,292

Material Transport, Storage: 1,800

Office and Comm. Capital Equipment: 4,330

Administration and Support: 12,445

Sub-total SYRIA: 333,867


CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, IRAQ CONFLICT: Account #6812 (MEEP-21), P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations can be made by calling 1-800-297-1516.

On-line contributions to:

Call the CWS HOTLINE for updates: (800) 297-1516.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, contact CWS Emergency Response.

Telephone: (212) 870-3151