Humanitarian agencies form consortium to prepare for Iraq emergency

-- Mercy Corps Staff in Iraq Report Sense of Inevitability of War -
Mercy Corps and international partner agencies have formed the Joint NGO Emergency Preparedness Initiative (JNEPI) to coordinate planning and preparedness activities for a possible humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Based in Amman, Jordan, the consortium is funded by the participating agencies and the US Agency for International Development.

The JNEPI project was initiated by International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Save the Children/US, and World Vision to serve as a clearinghouse for information gathered by the agencies through their assessments and experiences in the region.

Participation in JNEPI is one component of Mercy Corps' ongoing emergency preparations in the Middle East. Members of Mercy Corps' Global Emergency Operations (GEO) team are currently performing assessments in the region and coordinating with Mercy Corps' offices in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank to position emergency supplies and personnel in the event of a humanitarian emergency.

  • A Mercy Corps staff member is in Iraq conducting a needs assessment in and around Baghdad. He reports a growing sense among the people of the inevitability of war.
  • In Northern Iraq, Mercy Corps' global partner Peace Winds Japan continues to operate humanitarian programs in the Kurdish autonomous zone including medical clinics that provide critically needed medical support to displaced families and mobile clinics to reach people in remote areas.
  • Mercy Corps is currently on site at a UN meeting in Beirut to coordinate water and sanitation response planning.
  • Mercy Corps staff in Iran are working with local authorities and other organizations to develop assistance plans should large numbers of Iraqi refugees enter Iran.
  • In Kuwait, Mercy Corps staff are assessing logistical arrangements and developing partnerships to address needs along the Iraq-Kuwait border.
  • Mercy Corps' Iraq Response Team will gather in Amman next week to review progress and plan next steps in efforts to prepare for operations in and around Iraq.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said earlier this week that an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 people were expected to flee Iraq to neighboring countries in the event of conflict. The United Nations also estimates that a conflict in Iraq could place an estimated 10 million civilians at risk of hunger and disease and in need of immediate assistance.

Mercy Corps has been involved in humanitarian projects in the Middle East since 1981. Following the Gulf War in 1991, Mercy Corps provided emergency assistance and supplies to Kurdish refugees. Mercy Corps has also successfully provided lifesaving assistance to civilians in situations compounded by military action in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

To help:

Mercy Corps
Iraq Emergency Fund
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208
1-800-292-3355 x250

US Headquarters Media Contacts:

Laura Guimond 503-796-6827
Margaret Larson 425-269-2096
George Devendorf, Nancy Lindborg 202-463-7383

European Headquarters Media Contacts:

Jane Salmonson, Cathy Ratcliff 44-131-477-3677

Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided over $640 million in assistance to 75 nations. The agency's programs currently reach 5 million people in more than 30 countries, including the United States Worth magazine has named Mercy Corps one of "America's 100 Best Charities" for the second consecutive year. For more information, see