Canadian humanitarian aid worker gives first hand account of the situation in Northern Iraq

Friday 28 March 2003, by ALTERNATIVES

Susan Harvie, has been in Northern Iraq over the past several weeks working with local NGOs - principally women’s groups that are active in the camps - to set up the International Development NGO Alternatives’ emergency relief program for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Direct beneficiaries will be at least 150,000 persons. The total budget of Alternatives Activities is of $600,000 dollars

.Ms. Harvie can answer questions on the emerging humanitarian crisis, local groups reactions to it, and the support systems being established to help the long-suffering people of this region.

Alternatives Activities in Iraq : Setting up operational Mobile Teams providing health and hygiene awareness, information and education for IDPs and other vulnerable populations affected by the war. Strengthening Health Centres in poor and under serviced neighbourhoods with large populations of widows with children. Establishing communication facilities and information systems through which the economic, social, cultural and health conditions of vulnerable populations can be shared among health care providing organizations.
The war is expected to provoke massive movements of IDPs into Iraqi Kurdistan. Estimates range from 500,000 up to 1,000,000 new IDPs.

These new IDPs will join an estimated 800,000 IDPs already in Iraqi Kurdistan (20% of the total population of 4,000,000) as a result of the first Gulf War and subsequent uprisings against the Baghdad regime.
Alternatives work is centred on meeting the basic human needs of IDPs and other vulnerable populations affected by the war. Alternatives is working with several Iraqi NGOs, including a network of 12 women’s organizations, active for many years in health and hygiene awareness and education.

There are currently three large camps already filled to capacity with IDPs, many of who have been there since 1991. The current plan is to place most new IDPs in rural villages. The Iraqi Kurdish people have a long and generous history toward IDPs and there is every reason to believe that the new IDPs will be warmly received, but the overarching question is will there be any supplies when they arrive?
Their future is uncertain at best, and disastrous at worst. At a time when many Canadians are asking what’s next, Ms. Harvie is uniquely positioned to answer these questions and also talk about what the people on the ground are doing.
For more information:
France-Isabelle Langlois: 514.982.6606 ext. 2257
Pierre Beaudet: 514.982.6606 ext 2244. Mobile: 514.577.6606

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Alternatives - Action and Communication Network for International Development
3720 Parc Ave. Suite 300, Montreal, Quebec, H2X 2J1


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