Australian Red Cross has responded to the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq by launching an Australia-wide urgent appeal for donations to enable the Red Cross to assist the families and other vulnerable people in Iraq and its neighbouring countries. Presently three Australian Red Cross delegates are on mission in the region, however several more Australians are on standby to leave for the Gulf if required.
'War always causes human suffering, and its impact is often dramatic on civilians. We are very concerned that the suffering of the people of Iraq is set to deepen still further,' says Dr Rob O'Regan, National Chairman of Australian Red Cross.
'We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The people are weakened, vulnerable and therefore have few resources to face a new conflict. Some 15 million people are entirely dependent on food rations to survive and the mortality rate among children is unacceptably high.'
International components of the Red Cross, have been working in Iraq since 1980 with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. The Red Cross is currently one of the very few international organisations with humanitarian assistance projects and a regular, long-term presence throughout Iraq.
The Red Cross is determined to remain in Iraq during the active phase of hostilities, focusing on life-saving activities. It will act as an independent, impartial and neutral humanitarian organisation according to its mandate under international humanitarian law to provide assistance and protection to the victims of armed conflict.
The Australian Red Cross Iraq and Region Humanitarian Appeal will support the work of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assist people affected by the conflict in Iraq. The funds may be used to provide shelter, health care services, food, water and other basic necessities to vulnerable families in Iraq and to refugees in Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Assistance activities may also focus on the treatment of war-wounded, the prevention of health epidemics, emergency repairs of water and sewage systems, and the provision of the most needed relief materials.
Three Australian Red Cross delegates on mission in the region
Australians Don Atkinson (TAS), an expert in water and sanitation, and logistician Greg Platt (NSW) are on mission with the Federation in the Middle East. Mr Atkinson is based in Amman, Jordan and Mr Platt, Damascus, Syria.
A third Australian, Mr Jeremy England (VIC), a Cooperation Delegate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is in Jordan ready for deployment to Kuwait. Until last week Mr England was one of the very few people to have worked continuously with the ICRC in Baghdad since April 2002. All three are highly regarded by the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for their professionalism and experience in disaster and conflict zones.
Australian Red Cross will spend at least 90 per cent of the donations in providing direct assistance to the victims. Residual funds are used to recover administrative costs in accordance with the Australian Council For Overseas Aid Code of Conduct and Australian Taxation Office Rules.
All donations over $2 to the Iraq and Region Humanitarian Appeal are tax deductible.
To donate to the Iraq and Region Humanitarian Appeal
Secure on-line facilities at www.redcross.org.au
Freecall 1800 811 700 from anywhere in Australia
Send a cheque or money order to GPO Box 9949 in your capital city
Mr Ian Woolverton
Media Adviser - International Programs
Australian Red Cross
Telephone +61 3 9345 1868
Mobile +61 418 526 850