Third of Iraqis ‘need urgent aid’
Nearly a third of the population of Iraq is in need of immediate emergency aid, according to a new report from Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi NGOs.The report said the Iraqi government was failing to provide basic essentials such as water, sanitation, food, and shelter to up to eight million people.
It warned the continuing violence was masking a humanitarian crisis that had grown worse since the invasion in 2003.
It also found that four million Iraqis had been uprooted by the violence.
More than two million people have been displaced inside the country, while a further two million have fled to neighbouring countries, according to the report.
On Thursday, an international conference in Jordan pledged to help the refugees with their difficulties.
The BBC’s Nicholas Witchell in Baghdad says the report by the UK-based charity and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) makes alarming reading.
The survey recognises that armed conflict is the greatest problem facing Iraqis, but finds a population “increasingly threatened by disease and malnutrition”.
It suggests that 70% of Iraq’s 26.5m population are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% percent prior to the invasion. Only 20% have access to effective sanitation.
Nearly 30% of children are malnourished, a sharp increase on the situation four years ago. Some 15% of Iraqis regularly cannot afford to eat.
The report also said 92% of Iraq’s children suffered from learning problems.
“Basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people,” the director of Oxfam International, Jeremy Hobbs, said.
“Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty.”
Mr Hobbs said that despite the violence, the Iraqi government and the international community could do more to meet people’s needs.
“The Iraqi government must commit to helping Iraq’s poorest citizens, including the internally displaced, by extending food parcel distribution and cash payments to the vulnerable,” he said.
“Western donors must work through Iraqi and international aid organisations and develop more flexible systems to ensure these organisations operate effectively and efficiently.”
Oxfam has not operated in Iraq since 2003 for security reasons.
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