Iraq

Canadian Red Cross appeals for cash to help vulnerable people in Iraq and surrounding countries

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(OTTAWA, March 20, 2003) - In response to the armed conflict in Iraq, the Canadian Red Cross is appealing for cash donations in support of the worldwide appeal for $219 million for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement relief efforts in Iraq and bordering countries. Funds raised will help provide food, water, shelter, medical care and the distribution and receipt of family messages for at least four months.
The consequences of conflict in the region will be disastrous for the most vulnerable; the majority of whom already depend heavily on international aid for their survival. Twelve years of economic sanctions and two devastating wars have drastically weakened the Iraqi population, leaving most people dependent on humanitarian aid. Basic services-such as health care, water supplies and sewage disposal-are insufficiently equipped and cannot meet their needs.

"For decades there has existed an enormous need for humanitarian assistance in Iraq-and given last night's events, the needs are even greater," says Susan Johnson, Canadian Red Cross National Director of International Programs and Humanitarian Issues. "Members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are currently providing essential humanitarian relief in Iraq and neighbouring countries-and we will be doing our best to meet ongoing needs. The Canadian Red Cross is appealing for cash donations to help support these relief efforts in Iraq and the surrounding area."

With a 23-year presence in Iraq, the Red Cross is prepared to respond to the most urgent needs of the population. It provides health, orthopaedic, water and sanitation programs; family reunification and messaging services; visits to Prisoners of War (POWs) and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) awareness programs in the region. The Movement has also pre-positioned stocks and resources in neighbouring countries to deal with refugee movements-which have already begun into Jordan.

The Canadian Red Cross currently has two relief workers in Iraq and nine in Iran, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel. An additional 15 Canadians are on standby to be deployed to the region.

Canadians wishing to help may make a financial donation by calling 1-800-418-1111 or contacting their local Canadian Red Cross office. The 24-hour toll free line accepts Visa and MasterCard. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked "Iraq Humanitarian Assistance Appeal" and mailed to Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2. Online donations are accepted at www.redcross.ca. Any funds received in excess of the Red Cross requirements for this disaster will be transferred to the International Disaster Relief Fund for future relief operations. Donations of goods are not accepted.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please call:

Suzanne Charest
Communications Officer
Tel: (613) 740-1928
Pager: (613) 594-7405