ATLANTA (March 19, 2003)--On the
heels of military action in Iraq, CARE is deeply concerned about the potential
for civilian casualties and a looming public health disaster due to possible
damage to water and sanitation systems. CARE is the only major international
non-government organization that has worked continuously in the center
and south of Iraq since 1991 and will use its expertise in the country
to fulfill critical needs of the Iraqi people for water, food and health
The United Nations has estimated that more than 3 million women and children will be in immediate need of food. If infrastructure - especially electricity - is targeted, the country's already decrepit water and sanitation facilities will fail. This collapse, combined with the poor health of millions of Iraq's children, could result in the outbreak of diseases in epidemic proportions. The average Iraqi child under 5 years old suffers 14 episodes of diarrhea a year. Diarrhea and malnutrition contribute to 70 percent of child deaths.
CARE has dedicated staff both on the ground in Iraq and in neighboring Jordan to respond quickly to humanitarian needs. Staff inside Iraq will work to deliver vital assistance to children and other highly vulnerable groups when it is safe to do so. CARE's Regional Coordination Unit in Jordan is ready to support a rapid emergency response and to assist possible refugees in neighboring countries. The organization fears the current military action could cause massive numbers of people to flee their homes, potentially on the scale seen during the exodus from Kosovo in 1999. CARE will work in partnership with the United Nations and the international humanitarian community to provide lifesaving assistance to people impacted by the crisis in ways that allow us to operate independently and impartially, according to humanitarian principles. As a humanitarian organization, CARE calls on the parties involved in the current conflict to ensure adherence to international humanitarian law, especially the protection of civilians.
CARE's humanitarian assistance will include:
- Trucking approximately 130,000 gallons
of potable water per day to hospitals, health centers and other institutions
in critical need, benefiting approximately 50,000 people. Humanitarian
standards in emergency response provide for five gallons of water per person,
however, traditional practice in a desert culture like Iraq is approximately
one gallon, thereby enabling CARE to double the reach of its water supplies.
CARE has positioned 19,000 gallons of emergency fuel in Baghdad in order
to carry out this trucking operation.
- Conducting emergency repairs to essential
water installations, generators, disposal systems, pumps and chlorinators
through a mobile repair unit.
- Distributing 55 tons of lactose-free
milk to 80 children's hospitals and hospitals with pediatric wings. Children
with chronic diarrhea or acute gastro-enteritis cannot drink ordinary milk
because they become lactose intolerant.
- Provide 15 tons of soap, washing powder and cleaning material to UNICEF supported nutrition wards in nearly 70 pediatric hospitals in south and central Iraq. Sufficient cleaning materials - bleach, pest control products - may not otherwise be readily available to ensure hygienic conditions in the hospitals.
In Atlanta: Lurma Rackley, (404) 979-9450; firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> ; Alina Labrada, (404) 979-9383; firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
In Amman: Arnoud Hekkens, (011-962-79-503-5696); firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>