Iraq: World Vision ready to bring aid in event of conflict

Amman, Jordan - Aid agency World Vision says it is gravely concerned about the increasing likelihood of war against Iraq but has pushed ahead with plans to respond in the event of a humanitarian crisis throughout the region.
World Vision Middle East relief manager Ton van Zutphen said even at this late hour the agency hoped that war might be averted for the sake of the 13 million children and their families. But such a hope should not be allowed to interfere with preparations for an emergency.

"It would be irresponsible to be unprepared in the light of the extremely serious threat war poses to those who will suffer, and our concern about the humanitarian consequences of this war is great" he said.

World Vision is ready to deliver assistance to refugees fleeing Iraq into Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran. It further plans to work in Iraq, should conditions permit.

"During the Gulf War more than one million people were displaced. Given the possibility of a more protracted war and the possible use of chemical or biological weapons, the numbers of men, women and children needing food and shelter could be equally enormous," Mr van Zutphen said.

World Vision's initial relief response will include the provision of food, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans for refugees fleeing to north eastern Syria, and at three refugee camps close to the Iraqi border in Western Iran. The agency plans to establish similar programmes in Jordan and to a lesser extent in Turkey.

Currently the agency is shipping to Jordan further supplies of medicines, water containers and clothes for use in the region and is pre-positioning staff throughout the region.

"Many lives are at stake here. The more resources at our disposal the better we can help people in need. We hope and trust people will support these efforts," Mr van Zutphen said.