A shipment of badly needed personal hygiene soap and laundry detergent for Iraqi children arrived in Baghdad March 31 as part of the U.S.-based All Our Children campaign, a multi-agency effort that includes Church World Service, the relief and development arm of the National Council of Churches.
The truckload of 5.5 metric tons of supplies--enough to meet the needs of 14,688 Iraqi children for six months--and 5.8 metric tons of laundry detergent will be distributed by CARE Iraq to support a United Nations child nutrition program. CWS international emergency response consultant Steve Weaver in Amman, Jordan, where the shipment originated, said that the supplies will be used in 'UNICEF nutrition rehabilitation wards in 68 pediatric and district hospitals throughout southern and central Iraq, as access allows.' The death rate of children under the age of five is already two and one-half times greater than prior to the Gulf War, he said.
The $1 million All Our Children Campaign has been endorsed by former president Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn. In addition to CWS and the National Council of Churches, the campaign partners include Jubilee Partners, Lutheran World Relief, the Mennonite Central Committee, Oxfam America, Sojourners and Stop Hunger Now.
'We've gotten word from inside Baghdad that we are meeting simple yet critical needs,' said CWS emergency response program director Rick Augsburger. 'The children need hygiene and the hospitals need cleaning supplies. The need is great. When we visited in 1999 the lack of medical equipment and supplies in hospitals then was appalling. Conditions certainly haven't improved during this conflict.'
CWS recently issued its own appeal to raise $1.5 million for a humanitarian response to the conflict, working through the Middle East Council of Churches. It has already airlifted 4,500 blankets to Jordan--and it is working with partners to support the needs of displaced people in Iraq and refugees who may flee to Jordan or Syria.