CAFOD's partner Caritas Iraq yesterday sent supplies of medicines and first aid kits from its centres in Baghdad to Basra in response to an appeal for help from Archbishop Gibrael Kassab of Basra. Archbishop Kassab made the appeal with mounting fears in Basra of an outbreak of disease because of the breakdown in the electricity supply. Electricity is vital to run Iraq's water purification plants as well as its water sewage treatment. Sixty per cent of the people in the city are now being forced to drink water from the rivers, which are contaminated with sewage. UNICEF has warned that up to 100,000 children under the age of five could be at serious risk of disease. Responding to Archbishop Kassab's appeal, Caritas Iraq has sent medicines and first aid kits by road to the besieged city. It has also sent a consignment of chlorine tablets to Basra from Jordan. There are enough chlorine tablets to clean 1.5 million litres of water. This would be enough water to meet the needs of 100,000 people for one day. A further consignment of tablets - enough to provide six million litres of clean water - will be sent from Jordan to Baghdad and distributed from there to Caritas Iraq's network of 14 Centres throughout Iraq. In the meantime, Archbishop Jean Benjamin Abi Sulaiman of Baghdad has declared that all churches are open to allow Christians and Muslims to take refuge there during the bombardment of the city. Caritas Iraq has already provided many of them with emergency food and bedding. The Bishops of Jordan have also agreed that in the case of a refugee influx from Iraq, they will provide refuge in Church buildings to 2,000 refugees. Caritas Jordan is the only non-Governmental organization in the country providing assistance to the 300,000 Iraqi refugees who already live in Jordan. Caritas Iraq is a member of Caritas International the worldwide Catholic aid network and has been working in Iraq since 1992. It provides a range of vital humanitarian and development programmes including supplementary feeding for 30,000 mothers and children and the rehabilitation of the water supply for 300,000 people. It operates through a network of 14 centres throughout Iraq. Its 135 staff are experienced across a range of disciplines from healthcare and nutrition to engineering and water and sanitation and are helped by 170 volunteers.
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