The long-term cost of war will be extremely serious for the Iraqi people, who are extremely vulnerable. As the U.S.-led military action against Iraq steps up, staff of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International fear that the long-standing humanitarian crisis in Iraq will be exacerbated and affect neighboring countries -- Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon -- where displaced persons will most likely seek refuge.
Yesterday, Thor-Arne Prois, director of ACT's coordinating office, said, "The plight of the Iraqi people weighs heavily on our hearts. Under the present circumstances, we affirm the long-standing humanitarian principle of unconditional access to people in need."
ACT is working through local member Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and other ACT members with longstanding commitments to the people of the Middle East. Through local churches and mosques, the MECC has established at least eight major relief centers and 44 smaller centers where people can seek refuge (see map, right). The centers are concentrated around four cities: Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and Basra (see map below). Relief efforts include providing shelter for internally displaced Iraqis and people who have or are fleeing to the neighboring countries of Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Essential household and other non-food items are also being distributed.
MECC in Baghdad has procured emergency kits, food and water tanks. Fifty wells that were drilled earlier at churches in Baghdad, have had pumps put in and are now operational. MECC is buying blankets, even while hostilities occur in the city. MECC has also released 64 winterized tents with heaters from its stocks to UNHCR to be used for the most vulnerable families in camp "A." Other non-food items will include kitchen sets, first aid kits and hygiene kits.
ACT International's members, working with and through local NGOs will continue to show solidarity and cooperation between Christians and Muslims and between the people of Iraq and "outsiders." As ACT International and its members' work is bound by the Code of Conduct of the International Red Cross, the Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, all cooperative work will be conducted in an open manner, reflected in the awareness and information work done by ACT members internationally. Humanitarian aid will be given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Humanitarian aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is one of Action by Churches Together's (ACT) partners in this humanitarian response. ACT is an ecumenical coalition that includes many groups, such as the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and Church World Service (CWS). One hundred percent of your tax-deductible gift to Advance #623225 "Iraq Emergency" will be used for this response. The generous giving of United Methodists to the One Great Hour of Sharing supplements the cost of Advance gifts. Give through a local United Methodist church or send financial contributions to: UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Call 1-800-554-8583 to make a credit card donation.
Source: Action by Churches Together, http://www.act-intl.org.
The map(s) is in the public domain, adapted from one(s) obtained the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection.