Salvation Army plans Iraq humanitarian aid

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KUWAIT CITY- A Salvation Army cooking fuel convoy is expected to journey to the Iraq port city of Umm Quasr within days. An assessment of the pressing humanitarian needs of war victims in southern Iraq has shown that clean water and cooking fuel are desperately needed.

Representatives of the World Food Program (WFP) have requested that The Salvation Army consider providing propane cooking gas to the war damaged cities in the region.

The Salvation Army advance team in Kuwait City has agreed and arrangements are underway to obtain and transport bulk carrier trucks of propane gas to the region via the military controlled road from the Kuwait border to Umm Quasr and to other communities in the southern region, as the areas become open to travel.

The Salvation Army, in cooperation with the United Nations’ agencies and other humanitarian organizations delivering care in the area, is preparing to start delivery as soon as agreements can be signed to lease the vehicles.

The cooking fuel is expected to be donated by the Kuwait government. The Salvation Army will use its donor-provided funds to hire bulk liquid petroleum gas (LPG) trucks to transport the fuel. Salvation Army staff will work with designated community coordinators to see that the gas gets to the appropriate needy families.

Major Mike Olsen, Salvation Army Iraq in-country director, noted that he expects to lead the first convoy to Umm Quasr within days. “We still have to clear a few technical hurdles to overcome and we need to put our security in place before we can actually cross the border,” Olsen observed. “These people have no way to prepare food and raw donated flour doesn’t make much of a meal. We cannot delay,” he added.

The Salvation Army has also agreed to cooperate with the Irish humanitarian aid organization “GOAL” to deliver broad assistance to one or more communities in the regions of Al-Muthana and Thigar.

Humanitarian assistance to these “governorates” is being coordinated by GOAL. Al-Muthana represents the vast desert area west of Al Basra, while Thigar is located midway between Al Basra and Baghdad.

Major Cedric Hills, Salvation Army international emergency services coordinator, notes that “We have had a very good working relationship with GOAL in our famine relief project in Malawi (Southern Africa) and we look forward to joining with them to meet humanitarian needs in Southeast Iraq. The assessment to identify the communities in which we will work and the service that we will provide cannot begin until the security situation improves somewhat. This rural region is currently closed due to hostilities, though is expected to be cleared for humanitarian travel within a week or two.”

Hills returned to international headquarters on April 14 to coordinate the provision of international humanitarian assistance and to prepare teams for their field assignments in Iraq.

The first team members are expected to be dispatched to Kuwait within days. Major Olsen will remain in Kuwait and Iraq and will go forward with the plan to immediately deliver cooking fuel. As the program expands, and more areas open up to travel by humanitarian organizations, the team expects to move northward and base itself in Southeast Iraq.

—International Emergency Services Office

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