Development and Peace working to prevent humanitarian crisis in Iraq

TORONTO/ March 14, 2003 -- Canadian Church groups at the forefront of opposition to proposed military action in Iraq are predicting a humanitarian tragedy of enormous proportions if hostilities are launched.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE led an initiative two weeks ago to urge the Canadian government to stand firm against pressure for war. Half-page advertisements sponsored by DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE and 31 other church groups were published in newspapers in English Canada and Québec calling on elected officials everywhere to work for peace in Iraq.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has also been supporting Canadian and international church coalitions lobbying governments world-wide to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is the emergency aid and international development arm of the Canadian Catholic Church.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE funds are already at work in Iraq as a result of contingency planning that international aid agencies undertook last fall to ensure that help would be available in the event of war. The goal in the first few days and weeks will be to minimize loss of life and meet Iraqis' basic needs.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE donations have been used to (i) prepare stockpiles of medicine; (ii) train 42 doctors and 220 volunteers to cope with large numbers of casualties; and (iii) prepare shelters to house those displaced by bombing. Church buildings in cities across Iraq (including Baghdad, Mosul, Quarakoush, Kirkuk and Basrah) have been converted into civic shelters and equipped with such things as water pumps, cots, blankets and latrines.

Medical equipment has also been sent to 18 Red Crescent centers, 14 Caritas Iraq centers and 8 hospitals to allow them to offer life-saving medical care to injured civilians.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has been helping the Iraqi people for the past 10 years. A total of $100,000 has been sent to date to support projects designed to lessen the suffering caused by the allied nations' trade embargo.

For additional information:

TORONTO: Jack Panozzo (416) 922-1592
MONTREAL: François Gloutnay (514) 257-8711