"Quick Fix" Isn't Enough for Iraq, Says Agency

Catholic Near East Welfare Association Tells of Challenges

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NEW YORK, MARCH 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Patience and prudence are the virtues needed in assisting Iraq’s reconstruction, said a representative of the Vatican agency for the Middle East.

«We need to be patient and exercise prudence in our aid to Iraq,» said Ra’ed Bahou, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) regional director for Jordan and Iraq, during planning meetings at the Vatican agency’s administrative center here.

«A long-term human development program, not a quick fix, is what is needed there,» said Bahou, according to a statement issued by the institution.

«Everything — medicine, food, even ambulances — is now available in Iraq, provided you have the money,» he said. «This is fortunate for us now, as armed gangs are intercepting supply convoys traveling from Jordan, stealing the contents, stripping the vehicles, and even killing the drivers.»

Last autumn, CNEWA suspended its biweekly Jordan-to-Iraq convoy of emergency aid, which began immediately after the war. Now, CNEWA’s assistance to needy Iraqis has entered a second phase.

«We are assisting with the expansion of Baghdad’s St. Raphael Hospital, providing seed money for a $1.2 million wing that will serve as an outpatient clinic for Baghdad’s poor,» Bahou said.

In April, an administrator for the 86-bed, Dominican-run facility is scheduled to visit the Italian Hospital in the Jordanian capital of Amman, a Catholic facility that offers a free daily clinic to hundreds of people in need, including Iraqi refugees. Like the Amman clinic, Baghdad’s outpatient program will be subsidized by CNEWA.

In addition to its support of Al Hayat, a 25-bed maternity hospital in central Baghdad run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, CNEWA is forging ahead with plans to build a prenatal and postnatal clinic in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

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