Iraq + 4 more

Iraq: World Vision flies in relief supplies as conflict threatens

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Amman, Jordan - The threat of armed conflict in Iraq prompted World Vision this week to urgently charter an Ilyushin heavy transport plane to fly in essential supplies for thousands of refugees expected to flee to neighbouring countries.
The plane will carry three ten-tonne trucks for the transport of relief items plus thousands of blankets, collapsible water containers and plastic sheeting.

The Ilyushin transport plane will be loaded from the agency's warehouses in Brindisi, Italy and is expected to arrive in Amman, Jordan on Thursday (March 13).

World Vision Middle East vice-president Dave Robinson, who will travel on the aircraft, stressed the move did not imply World Vision considered war inevitable but said it was important to prepare for the worst.

"Even now we desperately hope for a diplomatic solution to this crisis. We feel the option of disarming Iraq by peaceful means has yet to be exhausted and we urge world leaders to use all peaceful means to do this. At the same time it would be naïve to ignore the terrible possibility of war," he said.

Mr Robinson said the most important consideration in contemplating war was the humanitarian impact.

"We must consider the fate of Iraq's 13 million children, of those who will lose family members, of those who will be maimed and traumatised. We will do all we can to give comfort, shelter and hope for such people," he said.

World Vision will work in conjunction with the Jordanian Red Crescent and Caritas Jordan to distribute some of the relief goods to refugees exiting Iraq into Jordan. The remainder would be held for relief operations inside Iraq.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR anticipates about 600,000 refugees will likely flee Iraq in the event of conflict, and is preparing to receive 10,000 in Jordan.

World Vision also has plans to assist refugees fleeing to Syria, Iran and to a lesser extent in Turkey.

Contact James Addis: Jordan mobile 079 6857957; Int mobile: 64 21 488448