UN agencies launch 85million appeal to aid 22 million Iraqi refugees

The funds are required to support host governments in meeting the health and nutrition needs of the refugees 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.“The health needs of more than 2 million displaced Iraqis should not be ignored,” said the World Health Organization (WHO), which launched the appeal together with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP).“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 (non-governmental organizations), and significant financial support from the international community,” it added in a news release. 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 displaced population also needs reproductive and child health services, while the deteriorating purchasing power of Iraqis may also lead to rising malnutrition rates, the agencies said. “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,” WHO said. “But the burden on their health systems has become overwhelming and requires immediate and urgent support from the international community.”A recent assessment in Syria found that 62 per cent of household heads were unemployed, while 35.8 per cent worked in private jobs, and that 45.4 per cent of Iraqi refugee families can be classified as poor or extremely poor. It also showed that the majority of families live in shared accommodation, leading to overcrowding with increased the risk of the spread of infection, especially among elderly and young. 18 September 2007United Nations humanitarian agencies today launched a joint $84.8-million appeal to meet the health and nutrition needs of an estimated 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled the ongoing violence and instability in their homeland to neighbouring countries.