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Coalition Addressing Iraqi Humanitarian Needs

Coalition Addressing Iraqi Humanitarian Needs

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2003 – Coalition forces are addressing concerns about Iraqi humanitarian needs, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said today.

She said the Iraqi people have real needs, but that these needs pre- date the war. Clarke observed that the regime of Saddam Hussein spent billions on palaces and weapons of mass destruction and very little on the needs of the everyday Iraqi.

"The war didn't launch a humanitarian crisis, it is ending one, however," she said.

Coalition allies are moving substantial amounts of food, water, expertise and medical aid to Iraq. A British ship has already docked at Umm Qasr and delivered thousands of tons of food. The United States has sent two ships loaded with wheat, and Australia has also donated a shipload of wheat.

President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have called on the United Nations to reinstate the Oil-for-Food program.

U.S. Central Command civil affairs experts have assessed the food stocks, water supplies and medical facilities in liberated cities. Clarke gave a run-down on their conclusions.

In Umm Qasr, she said, the water supply is above pre-war levels. Electricity in the city and port has been restored, and sufficient food is available. The experts concluded that the medical facilities are sufficient and operating. The United Nations Children's Fund is providing medical supplies, and the Czech Republic is setting up a hospital to treat enemy prisoners of war.

Civil affairs experts say Basra has sufficient food supplies. Electricity has been restored, water is available in 60 percent to 80 percent of the city, and relief personnel are trucking water to the suburbs. Basra's medical facilities are functioning at pre-war levels, civil affairs experts said.

In the town of Nasiriyah, the scene of heavy fighting, the food is sufficient, but water is in limited supply. Electricity is not operating well, and health care is rudimentary. Clarke said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is providing medical care. The U.S. Agency for International Development is providing health kits – health supplies for 5,000 people for three months.

In Baghdad, civil affairs experts say the food supply is adequate. Hospitals are operating at reduced rates, with a large patient load at some facilities. Electric power is down in some parts of the city, but generators are supplying emergency power at critical places. "The water supply is in no immediate crisis in Baghdad," Clarke said.

The supplies should last for the near future, but coalition leaders are concerned, Clarke said. The coalition will see to it that the Iraqi people get what they need, she said.

ENDS

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