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Iraq: UN provides food and cash to families

Iraq: UN provides food and cash to families affected by bridge disaster

The United Nations has mobilized an urgent response to last week's Al Aemma bridge disaster, which killed or injured an estimated 2,000 people, rushing aid to the affected families and working to bolster the capacity of local hospitals to treat survivors.

Working closely with the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, the UN is distributing emergency grant packages which have already reached some 200 affected families. Each recipient receives staple food items and cash aimed at helping to cover incidental expenses such as transport, medical fees and lodging.

Funds for these packages have been secured through financial support from donors to the UN Development Group Iraq Trust Fund, now chaired by Canada. The Fund has contributed $300,000, which complements a substantial bilateral contribution from Italy to be channeled through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also contributed $50,000.

Other relief efforts by the UN include the provision of emergency oxygen supplies to various hospitals in Baghdad that received victims of the tragedy; 100 emergency health kits to meet the needs of 100,000 people for 3 months; and emergency drugs and medical supplies and numerous mobile cold storage vans for transporting and storing human remains.

Fifty large tents to be used as temporary shelter at the hospitals treating the injured were also made available. Additionally, the UN is coordinating with the Iraqi National Council on Mental Health to provide emotional counseling for bereaved and traumatized families.

In a statement released at the weekend, the UN noted that this assistance could not make up for the tragic loss of life, and conveyed its deepest condolences to the Iraqi people and Government while reaffirming its commitments to supporting them in the period ahead.

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