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Red Crescent plans relief efforts in Iraq

posted on 22/01/2003: 801 views

The UAE Red Crescent Authority will maintain stocks of medicine, food and clothes in Iraq and the UAE to ensure continuous supplies in case of an attack on Iraq, an official said. The stocks will be maintained due to the rising concerns about the possibility of a war, which will worsen the already deteriorated conditions of the population, particularly children, according to a report in "Gulf News.” Storehouses will stock milk powder, antibiotics and anti-virals, tents, beds and blankets, said Dr Saleh Al Taie, paediatrician and Manager of the Relief and Projects Department. Al Taie recently returned from his second visit to Iraq along with the Red Crescent team to see the health conditions of children in hospitals and to take proper relief initiatives.

The team visited 10 hospitals in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. Al Taie said soil, air and water supplies are contaminated to such a level that most women cannot deliver healthy children. "Women deliver children with terrible malformations, something I have never seen in my life. These children cannot be treated and mothers only bring them to the hospitals waiting for them to die."

Since 1991 about 1,700,000 Iraqi children have died and to date 750,000 are suffering from various types of cancers. He said the rate of cancer patients has increased 300 per cent compared to a decade ago. Hospitals have neither medicines nor equipment and facilities to treat them. "Most of the newborns are underweight and need incubators. I visited a hospital in Baghdad which had only one out-dated incubator. When there are more children, doctors make a choice who among them should be saved."

He said lack of medicines is also putting the lives of children at risk as a simple cough, if not treated, can easily turn into a lung infection. Dr Taie said poisonous water is one of the major problems endangering the lives of the Iraqis. He said: "The famous palm trees of Basra, known worldwide for producing the best dates, are now growing without the top. You will see rows of bare trunks."

The Red Crescent team which was in the country from January 6 to 16, also visited the Basra refugee camp where thousands are pouring in through the Iranian border and living without water or electricity. Al Taie said the authority is planning to send a shipment of clothes and medicines to Iraq and will intensify an ongoing vaccination programme for poliomyelitis.

The authority is also engaged in a project to equip a house for homeless children in Baghdad with wheelchairs, medicines and beds, and is planning to send large supplies to a hospital in Al Kut city. He added that authority plans to distribute food packets in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul on Eid Al Adha. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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