Iraq: IFRC appeals for 111 million Swiss francs to assist 305,000 people

Geneva, 20 March 2003 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing today for 111 million Swiss francs (US$ 80 million) to assist at least 305,000 people who may be forced to flee a conflict in Iraq. The appeal is being made on behalf of the Red Crescent Societies in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey.
"We are deeply saddened by the fact that a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis has not been possible and we are particularly concerned about the impact of such a conflict on the population," said Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, president of the International Federation.

"Millions of Iraqis are living precariously as a result of twelve years of sanctions, especially the children, too young and too frail to resist more deprivation. We call upon the international community to help us bring vital help to those who need it most," said Suárez del Toro.

The funds will be used to provide shelter, health care services, food, water and other basic necessities to vulnerable families in Iraq and to refugees in Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. They include costs for the contingency planning that has been put in place since October 2002 by the Red Crescent Societies of these countries, should large population movements occur.

With support from the Federation, Red Crescent Societies are prepared to assist potential refugees and displaced people as follows: 55,000 people inside Iraq, 100,000 in Iran, 25,000 people in Jordan, 25,000 people in Syria and 80,000 people in Turkey. The Kuwait Red Crescent is also on stand-by for any emergency. Relief items for an additional 20,000 people are available from Federation regional stocks, in Dubai.

Preparedness has included prepositioning of emergency relief items (including tents, blankets, jerry cans, lamps, stoves and heaters), and the training of hundreds of Red Crescent staff and volunteers in camp management and relief coordination. Red Crescent camp sites are being prepared to shelter refugees in Iran (10 camps), Jordan (1 camp), Syria (1 camp) and Turkey (6 camps).

"Some 30 emergency response units are ready to provide essential assistance in the form of health care, through field hospitals and clinics as well as access to clean water, through specialized water and sanitation equipment and teams," explains Didier Cherpitel, secretary general of the International Federation.

"This all has a cost," says Cherpitel. "Since preparations began five months ago in Iraq and the neighbouring countries, the Federation has committed 6.3 million Swiss francs but has received pledges for only 2.2 million."

This appeal represents estimated costs for nine months of operation, including the contingency phase, as well as three months of emergency relief operation and six months of rehabilitation. It could be revised, as a changing situation and needs dictate.

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Tel: + 41 22 730 43 46 / + 41 79 217 33 45

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The Federation, the national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. For further information on Federation activities, please see our web site: www.ifrc.org