Iraqis running out of food and water: aid agencies

March 28th, 2008 - 9:03 pm ICT by admin  

Geneva, March 28 (DPA) Aid agencies said they feared for the plight of civilians Friday as a major military offensive continued in Basra in southern Iraq stopping food and medical relief efforts. They said the situation in Basra and Sadr City in Baghdad was “critical”.

Unicef spokeswoman Veronique Taveau said: “The situation concerning drinking water is particularly critical. We estimate the population has enough for two days.”

The situation in Basra, the country’s second biggest city, had deteriorated as Iraqi troops backed by US forces press a military offensive to try to drive out Shia militia and criminal gangs.

The fighting had spread to other cities including Diwaniyah and Nasiriyah in the south.

Estimates put the number of dead at around 70 while hundreds of people are reported to have been injured.

The International Red Cross said they were unable to reach hospitals in Basra with urgent medical supplies.

Medical staff could not reach their workplaces and ambulances were being targeted in the violence, said a spokesperson who appealed to all parties to protect civilians and medical workers.

The suddenness of the attack meant families had not stockpiled food and there was no place to buy it from, she added.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the situation meant it was impossible to provide humanitarian assistance.

Operations had been put on hold in Basra and other southern governates. IOM provides relief to many of the 1.5 million people displaced since the Al-Askari shrine bombing in February 2006.

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