Christian Aid is alarmed and deeply concerned
by the current build-up of British and US troops in the Middle East because
we believe that peaceful alternatives to conflict are not yet exhausted.
A war would have severe and far-reaching humanitarian costs for the Iraqi
population already suffering from the consequences of the policies of the
A war in Iraq is likely to have severe
humanitarian consequences for a civilian population dependent on external
assistance and on a crumbling infrastructure already close to collapse.
Best estimates suggest that many hundreds of thousands, possibly millions
of people, most already extremely vulnerable will be affected because:
- Chronic hunger may result if the UN's
Oil for Food programme, which currently feeds 16 million of Iraq's 26 million
people, is unable to continue to function.
- Epidemics and water borne disease are
likely if there are military attacks on public utilities such as the main
electricity grid and water and sanitation facilities.
- Some estimates suggest that up to two
million people could be forced to leave their homes seeking refuge at the
closed borders around Iraq, adding to the over 700,000 people already forced
from their homes.
The UN weapons
inspectors have made an initial report which is under active discussion
by the UN Security Council. We urge all parties to take note of this important
event and not to pre-judge their findings. Article 42 of the Charter makes
clear that the Security Council can only authorise the use of military
action when non-military means of resolving a conflict have proved to be
inadequate. Christian Aid believes that we have not reached this point.
All parties have a legal - and we believe a moral - obligation to seek
the peaceful resolution of this dispute through the UN. The slide into
war must stop.