Thursday, April 19, 2007

8 Million Iraqis Need Urgent Aid: UN

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

The United Nations warned on Tuesday, April 17, that nearly eight million Iraqis were in dire need of aid, while international relief groups urged world countries, particularly war allies Washington and London, to accommodate millions of Iraqis fleeing their violence-ravaged country.
"Up to eight million Iraqi civilians are in urgent need of humanitarian relief," UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told a conference on Iraq's displacement crisis in Geneva, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).
"That is around four million more than those who are internally or externally displaced."

There are also four million Iraqi refugees and displaced people, about 2 million in Syria and Jordan and 1.9 million inside the war-torn country.

Holmes asserted that millions of people are facing "a basic survival crisis" in oil-rich Iraq, urging the world to shoulder its responsibility towards traumatized Iraqis.

"Iraq is not just a deeply controversial political and security issue, but a profound and no doubt lasting humanitarian crisis affecting millions of civilians."

A poll conducted jointly by ABC News, the BBC, and German TV network ARD showed on Monday, March 19 that four year after the invasion, two-thirds of Iraqis see a gloomy picture for their future and have lost all confidence in their "liberators".

It found that basic necessities were lacking in Iraq, with 88 percent of respondents saying the availability of electricity was either "quite bad" or "very bad".

About 69 percent gave similar responses for the availability of clean water, and 88 percent for the availability of driving or cooking fuel.

The UN Development Program (UNDP) and an Iraqi government agency said on Sunday, February 18, that a third of Iraq's 26 million people live in poverty.

It added that the living standards of Iraqis have been deteriorating after a thriving economy in the 1970s and 80s.

Open Borders

In a related development, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged world countries Tuesday to keep their borders open to the growing flood of Iraqi refugees.

"I hope this conference will galvanize international support to provide them with more protection and assistance and I hope it will mobilize resources in establishing much needed protection space," Ban said in a video message.

"For neighboring countries this means keeping borders open and upholding the principle of no forced return," he elaborated.

Some 800,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since February 2006, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Up to 50,000 Iraqis their country every month.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World's largest relief agency, praised Syria and Jordan for generous reception to Iraqis refugees.

But it warned that infrastructures in those countries have reached their limits.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned Tuesday that some of Iraq's neighbors were "closing off escape routes" for refugees by introducing restrictions, including a seven-billion-dollar high-tech barrier Saudi Arabian was building on the border.

About 95 percent of fleeing Iraqis remain in the Middle East, but the number of Iraqis reaching industrialized countries, mainly Europe, surged by 77 percent (22,200) in 2006, according to UNHCR data.

The US-based HRW singled out the US and Britain for harsher criticism.

"The United States and the United Kingdom bear a particular responsibility to help people displaced in and out of Iraq," said Bill Frelick, refugee director at HRW.

"They undertook a war that has directly caused thousands of deaths, widespread fear and suffering, and forced displacement."

AMSI Net- Agencies

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