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Old 03-24-2003, 04:06 PM   #1
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growing humanitarian crisis

I was worried about this. Not good.

Warnings Mount of Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq

Updated 3:05 PM ET March 24, 2003


By Richard Waddington

GENEVA (Reuters) - Warnings intensified of a humanitarian crisis in Iraq on Monday as fighting in the south delayed entry of much needed aid and water grew short in the country's second city, Basra.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for urgent action to make sure there was enough water in Basra, a southern city of some two million people where temperatures can soar to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

And Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country opposes the war, warned of a potential "catastrophe" in Iraq just as British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted to parliament that Iraqi resistance in the south was hampering delivery of food and other supplies.

The United States and its ally Britain, who are seeking to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, were hoping to gain quick control of the south around Basra and nearby Umm Qasr, the country's only deep-water port.

But five days after the military campaign began, neither is fully in the hands of alliance forces and aid deliveries have yet to start.

Getting aid flowing is vital for the U.S.-British alliance to underline their message that their fight is with Saddam, who the allies accuse of having banned weapons of mass destruction, and not with ordinary Iraqis.

In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said Putin told President Bush by telephone that there was a risk of a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where people have been weakened by two previous wars in two decades and years of international sanctions.

"In an exchange of views on the Iraq crisis, the Russian side emphasized the humanitarian consequences of military action," the spokesman said, adding that Putin had "confirmed Russia's stated position on Iraq...and stressed the need to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the region."

SERIOUS CRISIS

Malnutrition already strikes 1.3 million Iraqi children under the age of five, or one in four, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

A United Nations run oil-for-food program, under which Iraq is allowed to sell oil to buy food and other civilian supplies, is suspended and it is not yet known when it will resume.

Around 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people rely on the program which was set up after economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

British International Development Secretary Clare Short said if it were not reinstated "it would be very difficult to avoid a serious humanitarian crisis."

Nevertheless, the World Food Program, which distributed much of the supplies under the U.N. scheme, estimates Iraqi families have stockpiled enough for some six weeks.

Despite heavy bombing raids on Baghdad, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday that electricity installations had not been damaged and hospitals and water treatment plants were working.

But the agency did report a growing shortage of drugs for ailments such as asthma.

Aid agencies have warned that any lasting cut in supplies of clean water would lead to a surge in disease.

In Basra, water supplies were less than half the normal level following a power failure on Friday at the main treatment plant on the northern outskirts of the city.

Although other plants were able to keep some 40 percent of the usual needs flowing, the quality was poor, the ICRC said.

"I have heard a report from the (International) Red Cross that the people in Basra may be facing a humanitarian disaster in that they have no water and they have no electricity," Annan told reporters at U.N. headquarters.

"I think urgent measures should be taken. A city of that size cannot afford to go without electricity or water for long. Apart from the water aspect, you can imagine what it does for sanitation," he said.

In Kuwait, ICRC spokeswoman Tamara al-Rifai said the agency was seeking safety guarantees in order to repair the Wafa-al Qaed plant but that it was not clear who had control of the area.

"We're confident we're going to get access, at some point. But the situation is volatile," she said.
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Old 03-24-2003, 08:10 PM   #2
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maybe I'm naive here, but wasnt there already a humanitarian crisis going on in Iraq?

but please, whatever the case, no more quotes from the Kremlin about humanitarian issues, what a joke
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Old 03-24-2003, 08:12 PM   #3
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2882011.stm

and we havent even talked about Chechnya
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Old 03-24-2003, 08:20 PM   #4
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lets face it all non-developed countries have an humanitarian crisis
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Old 03-24-2003, 09:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by adamswildhoney
lets face it all non-developed countries have an humanitarian crisis
True. I work for two charities. It's going on all over the globe. That was a cut-and-paste, I didn't mean to emphasize what the Russians were saying, some horrible things are happening in their territories. I sure do hate to see this happening to innocent people in Iraq. They didn't do anything wrong, and now they're catching hell because some 's did.
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