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James Addis Is Inside Iraq

James Addis Is Inside Iraq

World Vision correspondent, James Addis is now in Iraq, with an assessment team of World Vision aid experts. He filed this report:

World Vision will seek to assist thousands of displaced persons living in dire conditions following post-war population upheavals in northern Iraq.

Following a five day assessment mission in Mosul, and surrounding areas, World Vision senior relief administrator Doris Knochel and commodities officer Mitsu Ikeda discovered displaced families living in grim, unsanitary conditions.

Among them the World Vision staff found about 550 displaced people sleeping in the guard quarters of the former presidential palace in Mosul.

"All they had were some blankets on the concrete floor. They lacked clothes, food, hygiene and a number of children were sick," Dr Knochel said.

"These people have nothing. Something must be done very soon."

The displaced were all Arabs, forced to abandon their homes after they were re-claimed by returning Kurds.

The Kurds were expelled from the same houses, in some cases more than 20 years ago, under a northern "Arabisation" policy of former president Saddam Hussein. The scheme cleared housing areas of Kurds in favour of Arabs struggling to buy their first homes.

Dr Knochel and Mr Ikeda found other displaced living in abandoned buildings and on wasteland in tents made from sacks. In some cases they had no access to clean water or toilets.

"Mothers are very concerned about the health of their children, especially as it just gets hotter and hotter," Dr Knoechel said.

Dr Knoechel said World Vision was in a good position to assist the displaced with essential supplies of tents, jerry-cans, hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and water purification tablets, already pre-positioned across the border in Al Hasakah, Syria.

"What we have is exactly what they need," she said.

World Vision will this week begin plans to move the supplies into Iraq and then distribute them.

While conducting food needs assessments the World Food Programme estimated there could be up to 150,000 displaced in Niniveh. In addition to those returning houses to Kurds, other displaced have fled Kurdish areas to start a fresh life in the governorate. Most of the displaced are "invisible", having found accommodation with family members, yet placing a strain on a vulnerable populace.

World Vision's assessment mission identified several other areas where the agency may offer practical assistance in the governorate. They included repairing looted and damaged schools, repairing looted workshops for the disabled, establishing feeding programmes in kindergartens and providing medicines to hospitals desperately short of supplies. World Vision will also look into reports of malnourished children.

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