Aid agencies unite and speak out against war in Iraq

As Australia continues to prepare for war against Iraq, 30 Australian aid agencies have joined together to draw attention to the humanitarian consequences of military action.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister published in The Australian newspaper on Wednesday 26 February, the organisations describe the existing vulnerability of the Iraqi people and explain why military action would plunge the country into a further humanitarian crisis.

"If power lines and power stations are targeted, sewage will not be pumped away and clean water will not be available. Inevitably, disease will sweep through a population whose child-mortality rates have already doubled in the last decade."

Together, the 30 signatories to the letter account for more than 80% of community-generated funds sent abroad each year.

While the organisations have welcomed the Australian Government's initial contribution of $10 million to prepare for humanitarian relief operations in Iraq, they insist that the primary objective must be to prevent any military conflict.

The following people are available for interview:

Gaye Hart, ACFOA President: (02) 4923 7567; 0419 763 950 (mobile)
Andrew Hewett, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad: (03) 9289 9444; 0417 519 371 (mobile)
Jack de Groot, Caritas Australia: (02) 9956 5799; 0411 309 422 (mobile)