Red Cross: Humanitarian situation still critical in Iraq 2008-03-17 21:24:26   Print

Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq

    GENEVA, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the humanitarian situation there is still among the most critical in the world, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday.

    Because of the conflict, millions of Iraqis now still have insufficient access to clean water, sanitation and health care, the Geneva-based agency said in a report.

    "Better security in some parts of Iraq must not distract attention from the continuing plight of millions of people who have essentially been left to their own devices," said Beatrice Megevand Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "Among them are displaced and refugee families, and those who have returned to their homes, children, elderly people, disabled people, households headed by women and families of detainees," she said.

    According to the report, although security has improved in some parts of the country, Iraqis continue to be killed or injured on a daily basis in fighting and attacks.

    Civilians are often deliberately targeted, in complete disregard for the rules of international humanitarian law.

    Health care, water and sanitation services and electricity supplies remain largely inadequate. Hospitals lack qualified staff and basic drugs, and therefore struggle to provide suitable care for the injured.

    The water supply has continued to deteriorate over the past year. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to rely on insufficient supplies of poor-quality water and sewage systems suffer from a lack of maintenance and a shortage of engineers.

    "To avert an even worse crisis, more attention must be paid to the everyday needs of Iraqis," said Roggo.

    "Everyone should have regular access to health care, electricity, clean water and sanitation," she added.

    The ICRC also called on those involved in the conflict and those who can influence them to do everything possible to ensure that civilians, medical staff and medical facilities are not harmed.

Editor: An Lu
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