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UN Launches Largest-Ever Aid Appeal for Iraq Aid - 2003-03-28

The heads of United Nations humanitarian agencies launched an urgent appeal for more than $2 billion in aid for Iraq. It is the largest relief appeal the global organization has ever announced.

The relief agencies, including the United Nations Children Funds and the World Food Program, say the emergency appeal is to address the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people over the next six months. Some of the food needs, estimated at more than $1 billion, may be cut back by the Security Council's decision to resume the oil-for-food program that was suspended before the war in Iraq began.

But Undersecretary-general Louise Freshette says the so-called "flash" appeal is to fund humanitarian needs that are not covered in the oil-for-food program.

"The second part of the appeal covers requirements other than food, including provisions for refugees, internally displaced people and other especially vulnerable groups both inside Iraq and in neighboring countries," he said. "Among the most urgent tasks are providing safe drinking water to the general population, attending to the health and nutrition of children, nursing mothers, the elderly and infirm, providing shelter, clearing land mines, and carrying out emergency repairs to Iraq's infrastructure."

Ms. Freshette says United Nations relief agencies are working in partnership with international non-governmental groups, which are issuing similar appeals.

Under the Geneva Conventions, belligerents are responsible for addressing the needs of civilians. But Ms. Freshette says many U.N. member nations have signaled a desire to make contributions to the Iraqi people.