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ICRC appeals for 108 million Swiss francs to fund emergency operations in Iraq

20-03-2003 News Release 03/19

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed to donors for 108 million Swiss francs to cover the cost of its emergency operations in Iraq and neighbouring countries for the next four months. The money will be used to save lives and otherwise assist and protect people affected by the war.

During the acute phase of the war the ICRC plans to focus on treatment of the war-wounded, prevention of epidemics, emergency repairs to water and sewage systems and provision of the most needed relief goods to internally displaced persons. In addition, the ICRC will seek to visit any persons detained in connection with the war and will work to restore family links. All members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement stand ready to lend their support to the humanitarian effort in every way they can.

The impact of the war on people's health and safety will be determined to a large extent by the manner in which the warring parties conduct the hostilities and on the measures they take to protect and assist persons not or no longer taking part in the fighting. The parties must ensure that medical and other emergency aid reaches people in need safely and quickly, and that hospitals and other facilities providing vital services are not attacked. In particular, all personnel, vehicles and structures displaying the red cross or red crescent emblems must be respected by all those taking part in the hostilities.

Over recent months, the ICRC has already spent 16 million Swiss francs from its financial reserves building up its capacity for an immediate and flexible response to humanitarian needs in Iraq. In particular, it has pre-positioned sufficient medical supplies to cover the basic health needs of about 180,000 persons and to provide hospitals with surgical materials for the treatment of up to 7,000 war-wounded. The ICRC is prepared to carry out emergency work on water and sanitation installations serving an estimated three million people. The organization can also provide food and othe r items for up to 150,000 people displaced inside Iraq during the first month of the emergency. If necessary, it will quickly be able to mobilize the supplies needed to assist up to 500,000 people for a longer period.

The ICRC currently has a core team of 10 expatriate and some 100 local staff working in Iraq. Once the security situation allows, this core team will be reinforced by an additional 25 expatriates who were relocated to neighbouring countries in mid-March. A further 60 expatriate staff are ready to begin work in Iraq on short notice.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Antonella Notari, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 22 82  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 29 30  

 Nada Doumani, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 27 56