UK aid agencies issue joint statement on Iraq

 The leading aid agencies in the UK issued the following statement today. 'The people of Iraq are suffering. Insecurity and uncertainty persists across Iraq. In parts of the country, the situation is critical. Already under severe strain and under-resourced before the war began, hospitals, water plants and sewage systems have been crippled by the conflict and looting. Hospitals are overwhelmed, diarrhoea is endemic and the death toll is mounting. Medical and water staff are working for free, but cannot continue for long. Rubbish - including medical waste - is piling up. Clean water is scarce and diseases like typhoid are being reported in southern Iraq. 'In parts of the country the conditions are very serious, and deteriorating. There remains a yawning administrative vacuum in many parts of the country that needs to be filled urgently. Unless comprehensive action is taken now by the occupying forces to ensure security and the orderly delivery of humanitarian assistance based on need - which is a requirement under the Geneva Conventions - this already acute situation will only worsen. Already, some newly armed militia are forcing some people to flee their homes or offering 'protection' for hospitals. In a country made up of a mosaic of ethnic, religious and tribal groups, this can only lead to more turbulence and more misery for those civilians caught in between. 'For any solution to be sustainable, the UN has to have a central role in overseeing and managing the transition to a representative, accountable and democratic Iraqi government. Time is running on, and still there has been no agreement on the role of the UN in the coordination or reconstruction of the country. It is essential that the United Nations have a central role in facilitating the creation of a transitional Iraqi authority. The UN has experience in facilitating political transition, building confidence, fostering dialogue among diverse ethnic, social and religious groups, and playing a lead role in the physical reconstruction of countries after war. Iraq's neighbours have already called for the US to pull out and endorsed a central role for the UN in helping Iraq form a representative government.' Barbara Stocking, Director, Oxfam Dr Hany El Banna, President, Islamic Relief Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, Chairman, Muslim Aid Duncan MacLaren, Secretary General, Caritas International Julian Filochowski, Director, CAFOD Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid Salil Shetty, Chief Executive, Action Aid Mike Aaronson, Director General Save the Children UK

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