Concern over humanitarian cost of war in Iraq

From the UN's New York headquarters to the streets of London, CARE is voicing concern about the humanitarian cost of war
CARE International UK joined the million-strong march in London on 15 February, to help raise awareness of the potential humanitarian consequences of war in Iraq. Driven by concern about the health, safety and dignity of the Iraqi people, CARE staff joined over a million others in the biggest protest in UK history.

This action follows weeks of meetings, letters and briefings to get our message out: the humanitarian cost of war in Iraq is too high.

In the last several weeks, CARE has been active in pushing governments to consider the impact of military action on the people of Iraq:

In late January, Margaret Hassan, Director of CARE Iraq briefed Security Council members and UN agencies in New York about existing desperate conditions following years of international sanctions. Ms Hassan, who has lived in Iraq for 30 years, has a simple message: 'The Iraqi people are already living through a terrible emergency. They cannot withstand an additional crisis brought about by military action.'

Through a series of letters CARE International pressed governments of the Security Council to discuss the humanitarian dimensions of their decisions regarding Iraq. Kofi Annan did address the Security Council about the status of humanitarian contingency planning on 13 February, the day before the UN weapons inspectors reported their latest findings.

On 12 February, CARE International UK joined its NGO colleagues to present evidence to the House of Commons' International Development Committee about the humanitarian consequences of possible military action.

CARE is now urging UN member governments worldwide to raise humanitarian concerns in the open debate at the General Assembly on 18 February. CARE hopes that many countries alarmed by the prospect of war will address Iraq's humanitarian situation in their statement during the open debate.

According to recent United Nations assessment, the crisis will deepen significantly if military action takes place.


  • 60 percent of the population depends entirely on food rations through the Oil-for-Food programme

  • 23 percent of children have chronic malnutrition, making them vulnerable to disease

  • One-third of all children no longer attend school because their families cannot afford clothes, shoes and books

  • After 12 years of sanctions ordinary families are destitute and the Iraqi economy is in ruins.


  • 10 million people will need food immediately

  • 39 percent of the population will have no clean water

  • 5 million would lack access to health care

CARE International UK urges the British Government to pull back from the brink of war and pursue all peaceful means to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.