Iraq crisis worsening, says charity

ANTI-WAR campaigners yesterday stepped up calls for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq after a respected international charity gave graphic details of the “ever worsening crisis” there.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spelt out the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, with healthcare facilities stretched to the limit, food shortages in several areas, rising levels of poverty and unemployment and worsening power shortages.

An Iraqi woman quoted in the report said people wanted help to collect bodies lining streets every morning.

More than 100,000 families have been forced to leave their homes in the past year because of the shootings, bombings, abductions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence, said the report.

The displaced people scattered across Iraq, mainly women and children, are finding it difficult to cope with the “ongoing crisis,” it warned.

In its report, Civilians Without Protection, the charity says around one third of the population lives in poverty.

The report documents the “alarming” state of Iraqi healthcare facilities, suffering critical shortages of staff and supplies.

The report also underlines that much of Iraq’s vital water, sewage and electricity infrastructure is in a critical condition owing to lack of maintenance and impeded repair work.

According to the report, families in some regions, particularly Baghdad, are too afraid to leave their homes to go to work or shop or send their children to school because of “random violence” or the threat of kidnappings.

A young humanitarian worker from Baghdad was quoted in the report as saying: “Once I was called to an explosion site. There I saw a four-year-old boy sitting beside his mother’s body, which had been decapitated by the explosion. He was talking to her, asking her what had happened. He had been taken out shopping by his mom.”

Andrew Murray, chairman of the Stop The War Coalition, said: “The International Committee of the Red Cross is highlighting what millions of Iraqis already know, which is that life under the occupation is going from bad to disastrous on every measure.”

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