Bombing Would Bring Disaster to Iraq, Says Caritas

Worse Than 1991 Gulf War, Predicts Delegation Leader

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ROME, NOV. 7, 2002 ( A war against Iraq would represent a humanitarian catastrophe that would bring shame on the international community, contends Caritas International.

Caritas International, which coordinates the aid institutions of Catholic episcopates worldwide, published a document in which it emphasizes that conflict must be avoided at all costs.

After observing the hardships of the Iraqi people during a recent visit, Caritas envoys condemned the military option being considered in the West.

“The bombings and invasion would exact a terrible price, much greater than that of the 1991 Gulf War, not only because it would inevitably affect the crowded urban areas, especially Baghdad, but also because the majority of conditions, compared to 12 years ago, are that much weaker,” said Julian Filochowski, the head of the delegation.

Caritas International’s report reveals that between 14 million and 16 million Iraqis, two-thirds of the country’s inhabitants, depended totally on the food rations distributed monthly. Moreover, given the economic sanctions, the sanitary, electric and water systems are still inadequate.

The document also estimates that if war breaks out, at least 10,000 lives would be lost — and that figure could rise to 10 times that number.

The Iraqis’ suffering is enormous, Caritas envoys reported. “These people continue to struggle every day to affirm their own dignity, even under the threat of invasion. The people are afraid. They are conscious that the sword of Damocles of a military attack hangs over their heads,” said Jacques Bertrand of Caritas International.

Caritas International is planning ways to assist Caritas-Iraq should the bombing begin. Thirteen nutritional centers, which could double as first-aid centers for the wounded, would be established around the country.

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