Attempts by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) to send humanitarian aid on privately contracted trucks into Iraq via different routes have met with "varying degrees of success", a UNICEF spokesman, Geoffrey Keele, told a news conference on Tuesday in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Due to prevailing insecurity, expatriate UN personnel have not yet been authorised to enter Iraq, which is why the organisation has to rely on private contractors.
In southern Iraq, four tanker lorries carrying a total of 150,000 litres of water managed to reach Zubayr, population 60,000, 40 km north of the southern port of Umm Qasr. "This is the farthest this convoy, which left Kuwait on Sunday, has managed to reach," said Keele. "As UN staff are not allowed to enter Iraq, we're grateful that these local trucking companies could get much-needed water to Zubayr. Deliveries in Zubayr were made to local hospitals and health centres, which are making sure that the supplies go to those who needed them most."
Although the convoy had originally comprised 13 trucks, only four managed to reach Umm Qasr. Of those which failed, seven did not have the correct papers to cross into Iraq, while the drivers of the remaining two had decided that appropriate safety conditions were not present, added Keele.
Keele warned of rising temperatures in the border area between Kuwait and Iraq, which were expected to reach 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the week. "In weather like this, the need for clean water, already acute in several places, becomes more and more urgent, and concerns grow as the temperature increases," said Keele.
In the north, two trucks of essential humanitarian aid successfully crossed the Turkish border into northern Iraq on Tuesday. The trucks, destined for Dohuk, Arbil, and Sulaymaniyah, are carrying 16 mt of medical supplies and six mt of water purification tablets and educational materials. The trucks had been stuck at Habur Gate in Turkey for three days pending permission to cross into northern Iraq.
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