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'Occupiers are failing desperate city' - Independent, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Occupiers are failing desperate city By Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor 01 June 2003 http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=411297
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2003
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      'Occupiers are failing desperate city'
      By Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor
      01 June 2003

      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=411297

      Aid agencies have accused the British and United
      States governments of failing to meet their legal
      obligations to the people of Iraq.

      Cafod, Christian Aid and Oxfam - three leading
      humanitarian organisations working in post-conflict
      Iraq - claim levels of security are insufficient to
      allow aid workers to do the job needed.

      They warn this puts Britain and America in breach of
      their international obligations - and liable for
      censure by the United Nations. It puts in jeopardy the
      health and welfare of ordinary Iraqis and presents the
      risk that frustration among the people will turn to
      civil unrest if steps to improve their lot are not
      taken urgently.

      Oxfam's policy adviser for Iraq, Jo Nickolls, has just
      returned from a stint in Baghdad. "One of the most
      striking things is the sense of complete uncertainty
      and fear," she said.

      "People don't know how things are going to progress
      and at the same time are having to live a very tough
      day-to-day existence without electricity and clean
      water."

      Hospitals in the capital are still treating a majority
      of people for complaints related to a polluted water
      supply - cholera, dysentery and diarrhoea - and the
      breakdown of law and order is making it difficult to
      replace water systems and the electricity supply.

      "Security is definitely the primary concern," Ms
      Nickolls said. "The occupying power has a duty to
      restore as far as possible law and order and safety.
      They do seem to be failing to meet their obligations."

      Her views were shared by fellow aid workers. Alistair
      Dutton, emergencies officer at Cafod, who has just
      returned from Basra, said: "I can't pretend that the
      regime that has been removed was in any way good or
      easy to work under.... But five or six weeks after the
      war ended, the situation in the country is not
      consistent with the Coalition forces' responsibilities
      under international law. Failure to secure the country
      or to make it safe is severely hampering the
      humanitarian effort."

      Aside from looting, the ready availability of guns and
      general lawlessness, the aid agencies complain that
      unex- ploded bombs and mines have not yet been
      cleared.

      People are afraid to leave their homes, they claim,
      especially women and children - which means food and
      medical aid is failing to reach those who are most
      vulnerable.

      Dominic Nutt, emergencies officer for Christian Aid,
      who has also been in Basra, said the war itself had
      adversely affected the aid situation. "The basic
      infrastructure was chronic and held together with glue
      and string, but there were engineers there who were
      able to keep the system going. When the war came, they
      had better things to do."

      While the war had had a "profound effect", he insisted
      there was not yet a "humanitarian crisis". But the
      agencies agree the situation is potentially explosive.
      "Things could flip either way. It does require the
      restoration of security and stability," said Ms
      Nickolls.

      "If that doesn't happen you risk moving towards a
      disastrous situation.... There is far more organised
      crime, people are threatening to go on strike, people
      are unhappy with the political situation.... There is
      potential for more civil unrest."


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