Archbishop Kassab made the appeal with mounting fears in Basrah of an outbreak of disease after the breakdown in the electricity supply. Electricity is vital to run Iraq's water purification plants as well as its water sewage treatment.
Some 60% of the people of the city are now being forced to drink water from the rivers which are contaminated with sewage. UNICEF has warned that up to 100,000 children under the age of five could be at serious risk of disease.
Responding to Archbishop Kassab's appeal, Caritas Iraq has sent medicines and first aid kits to the besieged city. It has also sent a consignment of chlorine tablets to Basrah from Jordan. There are enough chlorine tablets to clean 1.5 million litres of water. This would be enough water to meet the needs of 100,000 people for one day. A further consignment of tablets - enough to provide six million litres of clean water - will be sent from Jordan to Baghdad and distributed from there to Caritas Iraq's network of 14 Centres throughout Iraq.
In the meantime, Archbishop Jean Benjamin Abi Sulaiman of Baghdad has declared that all churches are open to allow Christians and Muslims to take refuge during the bombardment of the city. Bishop Emmanuel Delli was slightly injured during the early days of the Baghdad bombardment.
The Bishops of Jordan have agreed that in the case of a refugee influx from Iraq, they will provide refuge in Church buildings to 2,000 refugees. Caritas Jordan is already providing assistance to the 300,000 Iraqi refugees who live in Jordan.
In its disaster preparedness measures before the conflict began, Caritas Iraq distributed relief supplies including equipment to build bore holes for clean water, water purification tablets and chemical toilets to a range of centres where people would take shelter including Churches.
Caritas Iraq is an independent Catholic NGO which has worked in Iraq since 1992. It is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a Confederaton of 154 Catholic relief and development organisations working in over 200 countires. Caritas Iraq provides a range of vital humanitarian and development programmes including supplementary feeding for 30,000 mothers and children and the rehabilitation of the water supply for 300,000 people. It operates through a network of 14 centres throughout Iraq. It's 135 staff members are experienced across a range of disciplines from healthcare and nutrition to engineering and water and sanitation. Caritas Iraq can also relies on the support of 170 volunteers in Iraq.