Iraq + 1 more

CARE warns of humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq

News and Press Release
Originally published
Civilians likely to suffer as military action commences
CARE International is deeply concerned at the decision to commence military activities against Iraq and the consequences for the civilian population. CARE believes that this war has the potential to cause significant civilian casualties and to unleash a public health disaster, as well as to seriously damage infrastructure including water systems.

As the only international non-government organisation (NGO) that has worked continuously in central and southern Iraq since 1991, CARE has witnessed first-hand the effects of the last Gulf War and sanctions on ordinary families. The humanitarian consequences of this conflict are likely to be catastrophic for an already weak and exposed population. The people of Iraq do not have any mechanisms left to cope with further conflict and disruption. Most households survive on just $US6 per month and 60 percent are reliant on food rations.

The UN has estimated that over three million women and children will be in immediate need of food in the coming days. If infrastructure - especially electricity - is targeted, the country's already weak water and sanitation facilities will fail and result in the outbreak of disease epidemics.

CARE is especially concerned about the plight of the majority of the Iraqi population trapped in cities and towns. We also fear further humanitarian suffering as a result of massive population displacement, potentially on the scale seen during the exodus from Kosovo in 1999. As a humanitarian organisation, CARE urges that all warring parties should ensure adherence to international humanitarian law and in particular the protection of civilian populations.

CARE will provide a rapid and co-ordinated response in partnership with the UN and the Iraqi and international humanitarian community. CARE's dedicated staff in Iraq will work to deliver vital humanitarian assistance to children and other highly vulnerable groups when safe to do so. Our efforts will focus on the critical areas of water, health and food. CARE has also established a Regional Co-ordination Unit in Jordan to support a rapid emergency response and to assist refugees in neighbouring countries. More information on CARE's response will be included in forthcoming press releases.

Notes to editors

For interviews with Will Day, chief executive, CARE International UK or Raja Jarrah, programme director, or for further information about CARE's programmes in Iraq and the current humanitarian situation, contact:

Kaye Stearman, Head of Communications, CARE UK. Tel: 020 7934 9346, e-mail:
Kate Bulbulian, Press Officer, CARE UK. Tel: 020 7934 9347, e-mail:
For information about CARE's Appeals for Iraqi Victims of War, contact Dan McLean, Tel: 020 7934 9348, e-mail:
|Iraq Appeal Hotline: 0845 600 5800