In an effort to assist hundreds of thousands of people who might be forced to flee the ensuing conflict in Iraq, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an appeal for US $80 million. Thursday's appeal is being made on behalf of the Red Crescent Societies of Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey.
"The thrust of the International Federation's appeal is to provide support to any refugee crisis that might ensue from the crisis inside Iraq," IFRC media head, Denis McClean told IRIN from Geneva, noting their support to Red Crescent Societies in neighbouring countries with prepositioning emergency supplies - particularly focusing on shelter.
The funds would be used to provide shelter, health care services, food, water, and other basic necessities to vulnerable families in Iraq, as well as refugees in Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. According to an IFRC statement announcing the appeal, the funds would also be used to help offset the costs of contingency planning that had been put in place since October 2002 by the Red Crescent Societies of these countries, should large population movements occur.
"We've also put a lot preparation into training hundreds of Red Crescent staff and volunteers in camp management and relief coordination. We have made preparations to manage a total of 18 camps in the neighbouring countries, as well as to continue support to the Iraqi Red Crescent. In total, our initial target is some 305,000 people," McClean explained. Some 10 Red Crescent sites are being prepared in Iran, six in Turkey, one in
Jordan, and one in Syria, he added.
President of the Turkish Red Crescent Society, Dr Ertan Gonen in the Turkish capital Ankara told IRIN they had stocks to assist up to 50,000 at the border, but called on the international community to replenish any national stocks that might be used. "We had very negative experiences during the 1991
gulf crisis. In two days, an influx of 500,000 people came into Turkey. The Turkish Red Crescent used all its resources to deal with the situation and in the end, no assistance was ever received to replenish these expenditures," he explained.
Meanwhile, Mostafa Mohaghegh, director general of the International Affairs Department of the Iranian Red Crescent Society told IRIN from the Iranian capital Tehran, that they didn't have any stocks allocated for the refugees, but structurally were ready to handle a possible influx of up to 200,000.
"Everything is ready," he said, noting all 300 local branches of the Iranian Red Crescent, including those in provinces bordering Iraq, were on alert. "We can initiate an operation at any moment, but in terms of relief items we will need international assistance, " he said. "We hope the international community are fast in supporting us in carrying out an effective relief operation," he said, noting while they could start the operation, they would need outside assistance to continue it. "We might borrow from our national stocks initially," Mohaghegh added.
With support from the Federation, Red Crescent Societies are prepared to assist potential refugees and displaced people as follows: 55,000 people inside Iraq, 100,000 in Iran, 25,000 people in Jordan, 25,000 people in Syria and 80,000 people in Turkey. The Kuwait Red Crescent is also on stand-by for any emergency. Relief items for an additional 20,000 people are available from Federation regional stocks, in Dubai.
Thursday's appeal represents estimated costs for nine months of operation, including the contingency phase, as well as three months of emergency relief operation and six months of rehabilitation, but could be revised, as a changing situation and needs dictate.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions