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Third Shipment for Iraqi Pediatrics Hospitals Ready in Jordan

Related Story: U.S. Church Support Critical in “All Our Children” Effort, Coordinator Says

April 8, 2003, Amman, JORDAN – As Baghdad’s hospitals report a dramatic increase in admissions since the start of the war, a third shipment of supplies for pediatric hospitals is ready to leave Jordan as soon as it becomes possible to cross the border into Iraq and continue onward to Baghdad.

The three-ton shipment includes 32 wheelchairs, 600 blankets and 800 bedding kits.  Contributing $50,000 toward the shipment is “All Our Children,” a children’s health initiative of several U.S. agencies including the global humanitarian agency Church World Service and the National Council of Churches.

Steve Weaver, a Church World Service International Emergency Response Consultant, serves as the field coordinator for the "All Our Children" campaign.  He said,  "We are eager to get these supplies into Baghdad.  We hope all parties involved in the conflict will make safe humanitarian access a priority."

The "All Our Children" campaign is a $1 million, multi-agency effort to meet health needs of Iraqi children.   Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter have endorsed the campaign, which was launched in December 2002.

A first “All Our Children” shipment of medicine and medical supplies reached Baghdad just before the war started and has been distributed to two pediatric hospitals.  A shipment of 5.5 metric tons of personal hygiene soap – enough for 14,688 Iraqi children for six months -- and 5.8 metric tons of laundry detergent arrived March 31 and will be distributed to 68 pediatric and district hospitals throughout southern and central Iraq, as access allows. 

To date, the campaign has contributed $188,801 for the three humanitarian aid shipments.

During the last 20 years, the children of Iraq have suffered at the hands of both internal and external forces.  The Gulf War in 1991 and more than a decade of sanctions have followed on the heels of a protracted Iraqi war with Iran during the 1980s.  Estimates of the number of children who have died run from 500,000 to more than one million

The United Nations attributes the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the trade sanctions in place since 1990.   The sanctions have exhausted the resources of many Iraqi families.  During the 1990s, under-five mortality increased by more than two and one-half times, to 131 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to a February 2002 UNICEF report.  The immediate causes include disease and malnutrition, with preventable illnesses such as diarrhea and respiratory infections accounting for 70 percent of the mortality.

Explained Weaver, “To help break the cycle of malnutrition and diarrhea, it’s important to ensure good hygiene practices.” 

Campaign Continues Long-Term CWS Commitment to Meet Needs in Iraq

The “All Our Children” campaign compliments the long-term commitment of Church World Service to assist with ongoing humanitarian needs in Iraq. Church World Service has provided more than $3.8 million since 1991 for humanitarian assistance in Iraq.

Church World Service’s extension of aid in response to sanctions-related suffering, especially shortages of medicine and medical supplies, will continue.  “Whatever happens in Iraq,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS Executive Director, “we know there will still be a critical need for medicine and health related items in Iraqi health service institutions, particularly to help improve curative services for Iraqi children.”  The Rev. McCullough took part in a humanitarian research mission to Baghdad in January.

“The need is great,” said Church World Service Emergency Response Program Director Rick Augsburger.  “When we visited Iraq in 1999,” he recalled, “the lack of medical equipment and supplies in hospitals then was appalling.  Conditions certainly haven’t improved during this conflict.”

Above and beyond its contributions to the “All Our Children” campaign, Church World Service is seeking to raise $1.5 million toward humanitarian response that will reach out to displaced persons in Iraq and refugees who enter Jordan and Syria.  Church World Service already has airlifted 4,500 blankets, valued at $19,170, to Amman, Jordan.

During the 1990s, CWS spearheaded a campaign that Iraqi health administrators said put blankets on every hospital bed in the country. 

CWS opposed the U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iraq and will not accept U.S. government funding for the initial emergency phase of response to the current conflict.  CWS also continues to be a vocal advocate for transferring administration of humanitarian aid in Iraq from the U.S. military to the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.

Church World Service, the global humanitarian agency of the 36 member denominations of the National Council of Churches, works in partnership with local organizations in more than 80 countries, including the United States, to support sustainable self-help and development, meet emergency needs, aid refugees and address the root causes of poverty and powerlessness.

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Donations for Iraq-related humanitarian aid:
Church World Service Iraq Humanitarian Response, Post Office Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515;
phone number: (800) 297-1516; website: www.churchworldservice.org


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