Iraq

Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte appeals for donations to help suffering Iraqis

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MONTRéAL / March 21, 2003 - Montréal Archbishop Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte today urged Canadians to support a Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE (CCODP) appeal for additional funds to aid victims of the war in Iraq.
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE sent an additional $100,000 to Iraq yesterday, just hours after hostilities were declared, to provide medicine, temporary shelter, drinking water, blankets and food, but Cardinal Turcotte said "much more is needed to cope with the enormous humanitarian crisis developing because of the war.

"The Iraqi people have suffered tremendously because of the economic sanctions imposed at the end of the Gulf War," the cardinal said, "and they have little or no resources to cope with this latest tragedy. The world community has an obligation to come to their aid."

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is the emergency aid and international development arm of the Canadian Catholic Church.

"DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE funds are at work in Iraq right now, Cardinal Turcotte added. "Money channelled through Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church's network of international aid and development agencies in 154 countries, has been used to stockpile medicine in Iraq; train 42 doctors and 220 volunteers to cope with large numbers of casualties; and prepare shelters to house people displaced by bombing."

Church buildings in cities across Iraq (including Baghdad, Mosul, Quarakoush, Kirkuk and Basrah) have been converted into emergency shelters and equipped with such things as water pumps, cots, blankets and latrines.

"Medical equipment has also been sent to 18 Red Crescent centers, 14 Caritas Iraq centers and 8 hospitals to allow them to offer life-saving medical care to injured civilians," Cardinal Turcotte said. "If Iraqi refugees begin moving into neighbouring countries, support will also be provided to help them."

In the longer-term, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE will work to strengthen its local partners in the region so that they will be better prepared to cope with the aftermath of the war.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has been working for many years to lessen the suffering caused by the trade embargo that the United Nations imposed on Iraq at the end of the Gulf War. Prior to today's contribution DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE had already sent $100,000 to help the poorest and most vulnerable among the population, especially mothers and children.

Cardinal Turcotte made his comments at a news conference attended by actor Luc Picard, a spokesperson for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's annual fund drive; DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE Executive Director Robert Letendre; Médecins du Monde President Réjean Thomas; and Monique Simard, Chair of the Board of Directors of Alternatives.

Contributions to DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE can be made by phoning ( 1-888-664-DEVP ) or by mailing a cheque to: DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, 5633 Sherbrooke St. East, Montréal (QC) H1N 1A3

The Cheque should be marked: "DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE - Iraq"

For additional information:

TORONTO: Jack Panozzo (416) 922-1592 jack.panozzo@devp.org
MONTREAL: François Gloutnay (514) 257-8711 francois.gloutnay@devp.org