Larry Thompson, Director of Advocacy for
Refugees International, has traveled to the Middle East to monitor preparations
for the humanitarian consequences of a possible conflict with Iraq.
One scenario is that a ground war in Iraq could cause 1.45 million refugees to seek safety in neighboring countries, displace 900,000 Iraqis within the country, and require food aid for 4.9 million people. Preparations for a humanitarian emergency of this massive scale appear inadequate at present. Among the problems are lack of funding, UN and U.S. restrictions on humanitarian operations in Iraq, and a lack of capacity -- personnel and financial -- by aid agencies in the region.
RI will consult with UN and international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations in the region and report on the state of preparations for a humanitarian and refugee emergency in Iraq.
RI hopes that a conflict in Iraq can be avoided. However, it is prudent to prepare for a worst case scenario. At potential risk are the lives of hundreds of thousands of non-combatants in Iraq and other countries of the region.