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Sunday, February 16, 2003

InterAction - the largest American alliance of humanitarian groups - has called on President Bush to outline the United States strategy + state of preparedness to respond to the inevitable consequences of a war with Iraq, particularly if this war is done without United Nations endorsement and therefore without the degree of support for international humanitarian and reconstruction efforts we have seen in the past from the international community.

InterAction also point out that 2 million people may be internally displaced, leaving them in search of food + shelter, adding to the 1 million people who are already without homes. Refugees – as many as 1.5 million - could flee to neighboring nations, such as Iran, already host to millions of Afghan refugees, and Turkey. In addition to which:

* 16 million people - 60% of the population - rely solely on the United Nations assistance for their monthly food needs.

* 10 million Iraqis - 40% of the population - may need immediate food aid in the event of war.

* 5.2 million of those who may need immediate food aid are children younger than 5 years or women in some stage of childbearing or infant care

* Potential costs of humanitarian assistance for just the first six months are likely to run as high as $800 million.

* There are only 1000 international UN staff in Iraq, and all of them would be evacuated at the start of hostilities.

* Unlike in Afghanistan, NGOs in Iraq have very limited personnel + few facilities.