Iraq situation 'ever worsening'

Red Cross operations director says overall picture in Iraq is "steadily deteriorating".

    Kraehenbuehl: It is often too dangerous for Red Cross workers to move around Baghdad [AP]

    Humanitarian crisis
     
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    Kraehenbuehl was speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, to mark the release of a new ICRC report titled Civilians Without Protection: The ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
     
    He said: "Whatever operation that is today under way, and that may be taken tomorrow and in the weeks after, to improve the security of civilians on the ground may have an effect in the medium term.
     
    "We're certainly not seeing an immediate effect in terms of stabilisation for civilians currently. That is not our reading."
     
    He said it was dangerous for Red Cross workers to move around in Baghdad, but admitted that "we don't have on a day-to-day basis a full picture of absolutely every situation".
     
    Living in fear
     
    Kraehenbuehl said the worsening security situation was causing "overlapping effects" of hardship for the civilian population, with medical care deteriorating as doctors flee the country.
     
    The Iraqi health ministry estimates that half of the country's doctors have left, he said.
     
    In addition, he said, many injured people do not even seek out medical treatment as they do not wish to leave their families for fear of either being kidnapped en route or in hospital, or leaving their relatives in a vulnerable situation.
     
    Kraehenbuehl said: "The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable.
     
    "Their lives and dignity are continuously under threat."
     
    "Much more has to be done" by all parties, including US and other foreign troops, to improve the situation and ensure that civilians' rights are respected, he said.
     

    SOURCE: Agencies


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