Special report: Tension escalates in
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
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.