AFSC emergency assistance braces for war in Iraq

Report
from American Friends Service Committee
Published on 18 Mar 2003
Philadelphia, PA - In preparation for war with Iraq, The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Emergency and Material Assistance Program is gearing up for the substantial health and sanitation needs of Iraqi refugees expected on the border areas of Syria and Jordan. A public appeal for funds has been launched. Schools, faith communities, civic groups, other organizations and individuals are asked to collect and assemble items for health kits to be distributed in the region.
A U.S. first strike on Iraq threatens to create hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighboring countries and displace thousands more in Iraq. In addition, 12 years of sanctions have already devastated the Iraqi economy.

Working with partners in the region, 10,000 health kits, blankets and other items have been shipped to Jordan for distribution in the event of military action. In addition, the Service Committee has released emergency funding to purchase supplies in the region since it is most cost-effective. However, emergency allocations to date fall far short of likely needs.

Cash donations should be made payable to the AFSC Crisis Fund and be sent to AFSC Development, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102. To contribute via Visa or MasterCard, call 1-888-588-2372, ext. 1.

Backed by a 86-year history of humanitarian relief efforts, the AFSC Emergency and Material Assistance Program (EMAP) has provided crucial, life-saving assistance to people struggling for survival - whether caught in the crossfire of war or suffering the horrors of earthquake or famine. EMAP helps those who are suffering without regard to their religious, ethnic, or political affiliation.

In addition to the national center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, EMAP has regional centers in Cambridge, Massachusetts; High Point, North Carolina; Richmond, Indiana; and San Francisco, California.

AFSC has a long history working for peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere of war. In 1919, at the request of Herbert Hoover, then director of the American Relief Administration, The Service Committee launched massive programs to feed millions of starving children in post-war Germany. AFSC has been active in the Middle East since the 1940s, when it was asked by the United Nations to administer relief for over 200,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip. In the 90's, AFSC provided relief assistance to foreign workers who left Iraq in the weeks following the invasion of Kuwait and helped in the distribution of emergency food relief, medical supplies and agricultural materials after the war. Over the past twelve years of sanctions in Iraq, AFSC continued to work closely with partner organizations to deliver clean water to displaced Iraqis, rehabilitate schools and restore water purification systems.

Health kits include enough common household items - such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste - to support a family of five for one month. For more information on organizing a health kit drive, or to locate the AFSC Emergency and Material Assistance program nearest you, visit our website at www.afsc.org/iraq/kits.shtm. Or you may contact: Tahija Vikalo, Philadelphia (215) 241-7041; Stephen McNeil, San Francisco (415) 565-0201; Peggie Baxter, North Carolina (336) 885-6921; Ann Goglia, Massachusetts (617) 876-5312; or Bonnie Nicholson, Indiana (765) 966-6484.

Detailed information on AFSC can be found at:: http://www.afsc.org.

Contact: Tahija Vikalo, (215) 241-7041

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.