From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Iraq administrator, MCC consider humanitarian implications of

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 28 Feb 2003 15:21:10 -0800

Mennonite Central Committee
News Release
February 7, 2003

Larry Guengerich
Media Coordinator
(717) 859-1152 #282

Iraq administrator, MCC consider humanitarian implications of war

by Maria Linder-Hess

NEW YORK ? Sixty percent of Iraqi people don?t have access to clean water,
unclean water is already a major cause of death in Iraqi children, said 
Hassan, Iraq program officer for CARE.

In a Jan. 29 meeting here, Hassan talked with Mennonite Central Committee
staff about how war might affect Iraqi people.	Hassan, who is British, has
lived in Iraq for 30 years and has been working for the humanitarian agency,
CARE International, since 1992.

MCC supports CARE?s work in Iraq, which includes helping Iraqi families with
access to health care and clean water.	Water plants and pumping stations
refurbished through CARE International benefit more than 2 million Iraqis.

If in the event of war, military forces target electricity infrastructure --
happened during the 1991 Gulf War -- Iraq?s ailing water and sanitation
would not function at all, worsening the situation and leading to additional
outbreaks of dysentery and other illnesses, Hassan said.

Fuel stations would also be out, leaving people without means of 

?(Iraqis) know what war is like,? Hassan said, noting not only the Gulf War
also more recent U.S. missile attacks.	The long 1980s war with Iran still 
in the Iraqi people?s memory.

?But this is not 1991 all over again,? she continued. ?In ?91 people had 
As the economy has suffered because of international sanctions, Iraqi people
have been forced to sell their assets: furnishings, jewelry, appliances.
Additional hardships caused by war could be devastating, Hassan said.

Much of the population depends on monthly food rations distributed by the
government.  Currently the government is giving two months? worth of rations
people can meagerly stock up before a war would begin.

Hassan said she recently met a teacher who has sold all of his furniture and
purchases second-hand clothing for his family on credit.  His daughter
out of school because they couldn?t afford appropriate clothing.

MCC?s assistance to CARE dates back to the mid-1990s. Most recently, MCC
contributed $23,500 Cdn./$15,000 U.S. toward CARE?s purchase of large water
?bladder? tanks, which are made from a polymer material and hold between 
200 and
250,000 liters of liquid.  These portable tanks ?can be crucial? to providing
clean water to hospitals and elsewhere, Hassan said.

CARE will also receive at least 10,000 relief kits that MCC plans to ship to
Iraq this spring.  The included supplies ? towels, soap, detergent,
and brushes, bandages and buckets ? will be needed in Iraq regardless of war,
Hassan said, noting that many ?Iraqi children have never seen a toothbrush.?

CARE plans to distribute the kits to hospitals and other institutions that 
people in need, and if warranted, to families who lose their homes to

Hassan commended MCC for continually ?chipping away at the sanctions issues?
addition to sending humanitarian aid.  MCC has spoken out against
economic sanctions in Iraq through statements and letters to the United 
debriefings with government and diplomatic staff and other advocacy work. 
has also sponsored delegation visits to Iraq and carried out a food parcel
protest aimed at U.S. congressional representatives.

The sanctions? impact ?has too often been diverted onto those least able to
protect themselves, the elderly and children,? said Bob Herr, MCC Peace

?The support we?ve felt from Mennonites is phenomenal and important,? Hassan

MCC is also voicing opinions against a possible war in Iraq.

On Jan. 31 MCC signed a letter urging the U.N. Security Council to consider
being briefed on the implications of war on non-combatants and children in 
?As international humanitarian agencies responding globally to need, we are
deeply concerned that the Council is consistently overlooking the
humanitarian consequences of potential military intervention, particularly on
children,? the letter read.

During her brief, but intensive, visit to New York, Hassan met with senior
officials, including members of the U.N. Security Council, to convey the 
of the humanitarian situation.


Maria Linder-Hess is a writer for MCC Communications.

MCC photo available: Margaret Hassan, right, program coordinator for CARE
International in Iraq, and Kevin King, MCC material resources coordinator,
through the contents of an MCC relief kit.  MCC plans to ship 10,000 of the 
to Iraq in the coming months, to be distributed through CARE.  (Photo by


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