Maura O'Donohue, CAFOD's Emergencies Officer, who has been working closely with Caritas Iraq, said: "Preparing in this way is very important. We are of course hoping and praying that war will be averted but at the same time we need to help our partners prepare in case the worst happens. The training, equipment and supplies will allow Caritas Iraq to offer life-saving care to anyone caught up in any possible conflict. The moderately injured would be taken care of at the centres and then taken home. While the severely wounded would be given life saving first aid to stabilise their condition before being transferred to hospital."
Caritas Iraq operates from Amman in Jordan and its liaison officer, Faiq Bourachi, visited the centres in Baghdad 10 days ago.
Mr. Bourachi, said: "It is a very frightening time for the people - the uncertainty they are living under makes life very difficult. They don't know what is going to happen from one day to the next. It is psychological warfare of the worst kind. They don't know what to expect or when. Will bombs start dropping or will an invasion take place? It has all gone on too long and people are just hoping and praying for it all to be over.
"Some of the better off people have already left for Damascus or Jordan but the poor just have to remain to see what will happen. They can't even prepare by stockpiling food as there are such shortages. Although the Iraqi government have distributed five months worth of rations", he added.
All 14 centres are connected to the mains water and sanitation system and the aid agency Oxfam who are specialists in this field have provided Caritas Iraq with water storage tanks, mobile water containers, pumps and chemical toilets.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Martha Clarke at CAFOD 0207 326 5557 or 0777 980 4254 (ISDN line 020 7326 5175) or firstname.lastname@example.org or Fiona Callister on 020 7326 5558