Chaos Looms in Iraq

Jon Flanders Jon_Flanders at
Mon Apr 7 19:53:04 MDT 2003

 07 Apr 2003 14:09:00 GMT
CAFOD assessment team finds bleak humanitarian picture in Umm Qasr

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) - U.K.
Humanitarian work in the port of Umm Qasr is currently not meeting
the needs of the Iraqi people. Water shortages are critical and
almost everyone is desperate for fresh drinking water.

Although water pipelines are now operative from Kuwait
into the town there are major problems with distribution,
as not enough water is getting through to the people who
need it most. The local people say that they have to pay
for the fresh water, which is being delivered by tanker
by Iraqi staff on behalf of the Coalition forces.

CAFOD's Emergencies Officer, Alistair Dutton, said:
"Almost every person we spoke to asked us for water.
We met a family of 14 who had to drink from a dirty oil drum,
which contained water, which was filthy. In addition the
hospital hadn't received any water for 3 days because of
a broken pump, which would be easy to fix and were forced
to rely on what they could buy from the tankers. The people
we spoke to very angry and frustrated they had been led to
believe by Coalition information leaflets that they would
be able to get water, food and medicine in Umm Qasr but
when they arrived there was not enough water for them".

The team who were carrying out a humanitarian assessment
on behalf of Caritas Internationalis the worldwide network
of Catholic aid agencies network were appalled by the way
the humanitarian aid is being distributed.

Mr. Dutton added: "The humanitarian situation here is very bleak.
If after two weeks it hasn't been possible to bring aid to a town
of 40,000 people what hope is there of getting aid to the 1.2 million
people of Basra".

In Umm Qasr they met Um Sami, a mother of 14 children who is very
angry about the way the Iraqi people have been treated. She told them:
"You support us for a while just for your tv and newspapers to show
that you like us but really you are just changing Saddam for a new
imperialism. We have no hope. We would like our children to go back
to school to continue our studies but we have no faith in the Coalition."

Hundreds of people are flooding in to Umm Qsar having read in the
leaflets dropped by the Coalition that they will find food, water
and medical treatment in the port. The numbers turning up in the
hospital are increasing daily and the number of patients doubled
to 400 in the last day but there is only one doctor and no water supply.

One 14-year-old boy the team saw had been wounded in the head
by a piece of shrapnel in Basra. He had received an operation
in the city but was paralysed and his father had brought him
to the hospital at Umm Qasr believing he could get better treatment
but there was nothing that could be done for him.

For interviews with CAFOD staff in Kuwait City please contact
Patrick Nicholson on 00 965 627 1978 or 07979 781015 or contact
Martha Clarke at CAFOD 0207 326 5557 or 0777 980 4254

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