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UN health partners launch funds appeal for displaced Iraqis

Appeal emphasizes health needs of Iraqis in neighbouring countries

18 September 2007

UN health sector partners -- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), and WHO -- today appealed for US$ 84.8 million to assist an estimated 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled the ongoing violence and instability in Iraq to neighbouring countries. The funds are required to support host governments in meeting the health and nutrition needs of the displaced people until the end of next year.

The appeal emphasizes the basic health needs of displaced Iraqis in neighbouring countries, in particular Syria and Jordan, which host about 1.5 million and 750 000 Iraqis respectively. The large numbers of people who have arrived over the past year put an enormous strain on the already overstretched public services and pose major challenges to host governments as well as local and international organizations.

In Syria alone, hundreds of Iraqi amputees need prostheses and thousands of cancer patients and trauma victims need specialized treatment. Access to hospital care is limited. Gaps have arisen in the national health information and disease surveillance systems, which increase the risk of vaccine preventable diseases. The deteriorating purchasing power of Iraqis may also lead to rising malnutrition rates. The displaced Iraqi population also needs reproductive and child health services.

Coordinated effort needed

The health needs of more than two million displaced Iraqis should not be ignored. Many are survivors of violence and have serious medical conditions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi displaced children need to keep on track with their vaccination programme. This requires an enormous coordinated effort between governments, UN agencies and NGOs, and significant financial support from the international community.

The joint appeal aims to improve access to health care; address malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and strengthen information and surveillance systems and coordination. It was developed as a result of the Common Action Framework concluded at the ministerial consultation convened by WHO in Damascus on 29-30 July.

Over the past year, the countries in the region have been very generous in keeping their borders open and have made a very substantial contribution to the health and nutrition needs of the displaced Iraqis. But the burden on their health systems has become overwhelming and requires immediate and urgent support from the international community.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Daniel Lopez-Acuna
Health Action in Crises
Tel.: +41 22 791 58 68
Mobile: +41 79 475 55 57

Fadéla Chaib
Department of Communications
Tel.: +41 22 791 32 28
Mobile: +41 79 475 55 56

Astrid van Genderen Stort
Senior Public Information Officer
Tel.: +41 22 739 8364
Mobile: +41 79 217 3172

Véronique Taveau
Spokesperson, Geneva
Tel.: +41 22 909 5716
Mobile: +41 79 216 9401

Patrick McCormick
Media Officer, New York
Tel.: +1212 3267426

David Delvecchio
UNFPA New York
Tel.: +1 212 2974975

Christiane Berthiaume
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Tel.: +41 22 917 8564
Mobile: +41 79 285 7304

Barry Came
Information Officer