International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement coordinates aid priorities in Iraq
On 12-13 May more than 30 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies met at the ICRC delegation in Baghdad to coordinate their response to the pressing humanitarian needs of the Iraqi population. The health sector has been identified as their first priority. The national societies, the ICRC and the Federation stress the importance of reinforcing the capacity of the Iraqi Red Crescent and the existing infrastructure.
The two-day meeting brought together 33 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (including the Iraqi Red Crescent), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Movement expressed its solidarity with the people of Iraq, who are suffering the consequences of the latest conflict, previous wars and economic sanctions. It also paid tribute to the dedication of all those involved in life-saving activities during the war, emphasizing that it would not be creating any parallel bodies that would jeopardize existing Iraqi structures. The people of Iraq were facing the major challenge of restoring healthcare and public services, and they needed support.
The participants received briefings from Iraqi officials and Coalition personnel – as part of an external perspective – before moving on to discuss humanitarian needs in Iraq and the humanitarian work of the Movement. The meeting agreed that the priority was an appropriate coordinated response to the immediate needs of the Iraqi population.
The challenges facing the country are predominantly structural, and the lack of security is still hampering both basic services and humanitarian activities. The Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives therefore stressed that no international humanitarian organization can or should relieve the Occupying Power of its responsibilities under international humanitarian law. Nor can such organizations replace national services. Furthermore, humanitarian work can only be carried out effectively if security is guaranteed and if civilians, humanitarian personnel and civilian infrastructure are protected.
Reinforcing existing Iraqi infrastructure is essential, as is supporting the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, as it is the only countrywide indigenous humanitarian organization in Iraq, and will be carrying out vital humanitarian work.
The national societies, the ICRC and the Federation are strongly committed to building and maintaining an environment within which independent humanitarian work can take place and can meet the most pressing unfulfilled needs of the Iraqi population. To this end, the components of the Movement are working together closely on the basis of accurate assessments. The health sector will take priority, with activities encompassing such fields as medical care, water and hospital facilities.