Save the Children has today launched a campaign calling upon its supporters to contact their MPs urgently expressing concern about the deepening humanitarian crisis facing ordinary Iraqi families.
Thousands of Save the Children's supporters are being asked to contact their MP via email in a massive internet campaign. Save the Children is extremely concerned that war could put 1.2 million children at risk of death from malnutrition. In recent years there have been fragile gains in the humanitarian situation in Iraq. A war could destroy this progress in moments.
Children under 14 make up nearly half of the Iraqi population, and almost one in four children in some parts of Iraq are chronically malnourished. Two-thirds of all families are dependent on monthly food rations that don't even last a month. Now even this fragile lifeline is threatened by the prospect of war.
"We hope there will be peace. No-one here has prepared for an emergency by storing food for example. We cannot afford to make any kind of preparation or to pay for transport to move if we needed to." (Iraqi mother of four children)
Save the Children urges the government to:
- Pursue all possible measures to protect and improve the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people
- Consider fully the likely impact of military action on the lives of Iraqi families, especially mothers and children
- Explore and exhaust all diplomatic solutions through the United Nations to resolve the current situation.
The future is balanced on a knife-edge. 60 per cent of families rely on monthly food rations. In the event of conflict, it is likely that vital supply routes would be destroyed and that food would fail to reach Iraqi citizens across the country. This would be catastrophic for many children.
Damage to electricity supplies, water and sewage systems could lead to the rapid spread of disease and other health problems. The UN estimates that in the event of a war, at least 1.2 million children under five will be at risk of death due to malnutrition, three million mothers and children would need food, and two million would require help with shelter.
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For more information please contact:
Carolyne Culver at Save the Children on: 020 7716 2280
Notes to editors:
Save the Children is not a pacifist organisation but is acting to ensure governments are fully aware of the potentially disastrous consequences of war for Iraqi children and their families.
Save the Children UK is the country's leading international children's charity working to make a reality of every child's right to a happy, safe and secure childhood. The charity has 80 years experience in working with the poorest children in 70 countries world-wide including the UK.
To find out more about this campaign visit our website: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/pressrels/290103.html