Iraq + 1 more

Iraq: Tearfund partners help to feed Jordan's first refugees

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As war in Iraq escalates, Tearfund partners in Jordan and Baghdad are poised to feed thousands of people left hungry and destitute inside and outside the beleaguered country.
A network of churches and Christian agencies in Amman, supported by Tearfund, is today making last minute preparations to feed as many as 5000 people at a camp for non-Iraqi refugees near Ruwaished, 70km from the Iraqi border. Agencies in Jordan are preparing to receive as many as 60,000 "third country" citizens, many of them migrant workers, including Egyptians and Sudanese.

"Around 200 people have already arrived in the camp and we are expecting hundreds more in the next few days," says Mark Smith, Disaster Management Advisor to Tearfund partner the Jordanian Evangelical Community for Relief and Development (JECRaD). "There have been desert storms in recent days that have hampered the Jordanian Red Crescent who are building the camp. It is hectic here but the churches are now ready to provide three meals a day for 5000 needy people."

Elsewhere in Jordan Tearfund partner the Alliance Church, which has helped more than 35,000 refugees during the past eight years, is preparing to feed 3,000 refugees and house 500 people in specially adapted church premises. The Church's three medical clinics are preparing to see hundreds of Iraqi patients.

Meanwhile in Baghdad Tearfund partners, who had been stockpiling supplies for months, were due to distribute food and medical aid to 1,000 of the poorest families in the capital and surrounding area.

Although there has been no contact with the partner since the war began, they were planning to continue distributing aid throughout any conflict. The aid effort is part of longer-term relief programme that includes supplying water filters and food to some of Baghdad's most vulnerable residents, including children in hospitals and orphanages.

As the war gathers pace, Tearfund is calling on the British government to observe international laws, including the obligation under the Geneva Conventions to take all necessary precautions to avoid civilian loss of life.

"Tearfund and its partners are ready to help ensure that civilian populations do not become the innocent victims of this war. For this to happen it is important that the allied forces create the right environment for an effective humanitarian response."

Notes to Editors

1. Spokesperson available: Mark Smith, disaster management advisor is available for interview from Amman. Tearfund staff in London are also available. Please contact Tearfund Press Office as below.

2. Tearfund is one of the UK's leading relief and development agencies, working in partnership with Christian agencies and churches around the world to tackle the causes and effects of poverty. For further information on Tearfund's work, visit www.tearfund.org <http://www.tearfund.org>

For further information, please contact:

Keith Ewing, Media Manager on 020 8943 7779 or 07710 573749 (mobile) OR
Abby King, Media Officer on 020 8943 7901 or 07767 473516 (mobile)