Japanese-Iraqi Solidarity Feeds Hungry Iraq - 03.26.2007

During Iraq’s twelve years of sanctions over a million people are believed to have died. They died from malnourishment, dysentery, and other diseases. Now in Iraq, an issue long obscured by the ever present violence, is coming to the fore.

According to Dr Mayssun Abdel-Rahman, a paediatrician at Baghdad’s Children Teaching Hospital…
the country’s health system is crumbling and…only UNICEF and the World Health Organization [are] keeping it afloat. But much more needs to be done, she said, as hundreds of children are dying from easily cured ailments, such as diarrhoea and undernutrition.

Demonstrating how bad things have become, Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite whose most recent role is to lead the committee working to win popular acceptance of the security plan, said he saw four problems particularly plaguing Sunni areas: food distribution, electricity, fuel and health services.

Food rations are a holdover from the days of sanctions. There continued use, 4 years after the invasion of Iraq began, is an easy benchmark demonstrating how tenuous life in Iraq remains. Some Iraqis have even taken to selling their rations, in order to save money for fleeing Iraq.

According to Marwan Hussein, interviewed March 21 by IRIN,
ďFor the past seven months, Iíve been selling half of our monthly food rations [distributed as aid by the Ministry of Trade to help poor families registered by the government] to raise some money to flee to Syria. We donít need that much to get the whole family there - about US $400 for a taxi ride. I might soon have enough money.

Even with the food rations system, many Iraqis are going hungry or incapable of receiving rations,
because displacement or violence has made them incapable of receiving their rations. Isam Rasheed worked with activists in Japan, to raise money for food donations in Baghdad. These donations were given during Ramadan, to families who were not able to travel to the markets, due to the risk of violence, or who lived in areas where most of the shops have been closed.

Unfortunately, Alaa Adel, Isam’s assistant and partner was killed while assisting him to provide food for poor Iraqis.

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