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Salvation Army Launches $1.2 Million Iraq Humanitarian Program

( [email protected] ) Jun 01, 2004 09:52 PM EDT

The Salvation Army International Emergency Team announced the launch of a $1.2 million support program for families returning to Iraq.

According to the International Emergency Services Coordinator, Major Cedric Hills, the newly allocated funds would serve the much needed but often overlooked humanitarian need in Iraq.

"With daily media reporting clearly directed towards the security difficulties and political concern focussed upon the uncertainties surrounding the handover of power at the end of June, the continuing humanitarian needs in Iraq often take a back seat," said Hills to the Salvation Army Emergency News group on May 28.

The eight month program will aid some 10,000 families, particularaly on the town of Al Amarah and surrounding villages. Additionally, the Salvation Army would be partnering up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in June to make a greater impact.

According to the Salvation Army Emergency News, the International organization would be responsible for 7 specific roles: Providing shelter to 425 returning families, by providing 350 traditional (transitional) dwellings and extensions to 75 host family homes; Providing safe, potable water to 5,000 families by rehabilitating water pumping stations; Constructing or refurbishing five primary health clinics to serve 4,000 families; Constructing or renovating 12 schools to provide education for 4,500 schoolchildren; Constructing three youth/community centers and employing managers to develop community activity programs; Providing vocational training through the establishment of 15 sewing workshops and three community training centres; Supporting and promoting self-sustainability though an agriculture and livestock program.

"We are delighted to be playing a major role in helping returnee families in Meysin. Their communities are keen to welcome them home but this places great stress upon already under-resourced services. This program will provide support to the whole community," remarked Captain Bruce Coffey, a New Zealand Salvation Army Officer leading the relief team.

Captain Elizabeth Hayward, (International Field Operations Officer) reported: "The needs of exiled families returning home can so easily be overlooked. This programme will target support to vulnerable communities and help families to re-establish a home in Iraq."

Most recent figures and estimates say some 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers are expected to return to Iraq after the interim government settles down this month. Also, 290,000 internally displaced persons that (IDPs) live in central and southern Iraq and a greater number in the north would most likely stay in Iraq and up to 150,000 IDPs may seek to move back to their communities in coming months.

Donations to support The Salvation Army's Iraq Relief Fund are welcome, and can be offered online at https://secure3.salvationarmy.org