CARE Urges International Community to make Safety and Security Top Priority in Iraq

CARE
Friday, 17 October 2003

As the United Nations Security Council adopted a long-disputed resolution giving a green light to reconstruction efforts in Iraq, one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations stressed that security is the No. 1 precondition if plans to rebuild and develop Iraq are to be realized.

In New York for meetings with more than a dozen UN Ambassadors and senior UN officials, Denis Caillaux, Secretary General of CARE International, said that six months after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, millions of Iraqis in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country suffer from the deteriorating security situation.

"As long as ordinary civilians -- including humanitarians trying to assist them -- are not able to go about their basic work, any efforts at reconstruction in the medium- and long-term will be seriously impeded," said Caillaux.

"We and others have been saying since early April that the establishment of fundamental security is essential for achieving three other top priorities for Iraq-- restoring essential services, creating employment for millions of jobless people, and restoring Iraqi sovereignty as quickly as possible so that the people themselves play a central role in shaping their country's future," Caillaux added.

Since 1991, CARE has worked continuously in Iraq, predominantly in the water and public health sectors, providing clean water to more than five million people living in central and southern Iraq. "For millions of Iraqis like the people we assist, every day now is fraught with worries—for example, 'Is it safe for my children to walk to school? Will someone try to highjack my car? Will gunfire break out in my neighborhood?' " said Margaret Hassan, Iraq Country Director for CARE.

Next week, government ministers from leading donor countries will convene in Madrid for a long-anticipated conference on Iraq's reconstruction. CARE, together with several large nongovernmental organizations working in and around Iraq, will also travel to Madrid to offer their perspective on the current situation in Iraq and the actions required by the international community.

"We are really facing a critical moment now," said Caillaux. "As our experience in Afghanistan has shown, the postponement of adequate security measures leads to a crippling crisis not far down the road."

For more information, or to contact CARE, see their website at: www.care.org

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