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Briefing note

10 April 2003: What UNICEF said at the UN briefing

Briefing by Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF

Malnutrition rates are likely to increase sharply by the end of April all over Southern Iraq due to the water situation.


Read Carol Bellamy's 20 March statement

9 April press release

12 June UNICEF repairing sewers, collecting garbage for the well-being of Iraqi children
8 June
Diarrheoa, typhoid among threats to Iraq children

2 May War is over, but the battle to protect Iraq’s children is far from won

1 May What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
1 May News flash: Top UNICEF official returns to Iraq

UNICEF Iran convoys food, supplies to Baghdad 30 April

With chlorine supplies dwindling, Iraqi children face onslaught of water-borne diseases 29 Apri l

28 April What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
27 April
22 April 2003 What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
23 April International Staff re-enter Iraq
22 April 2003 What UNICEF said at the UN Briefing in Amman
21 April 2003
20 April 2003
17 April 2003
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more ...

• Access more information about the children of Iraq at UNICEF's online Iraq Press Room

• UNICEF's professional photos are available to qualified publications. Write photo@unicef.org

UNICEF finds reports of continued chaos in Baghdad seriously worrying.

The situation in hospitals continues to be critical – and more generally UNICEF is seeing an unfolding picture of too much desperation, too many guns, and families living in fear and uncertainty.

The widespread looting and chaos spread to UNICEF’s offices in Baghdad yesterday – phones, chairs, essentially everything was taken away.

UNICEF teams reaching Um Qasar are also painting a seriously worrying picture. In the past few days UNICEF has had water and health specialists there. The most alarming information they reported is the dramatic increase in diarrhoeal disease during the past five days. Doctors at the local hospital reported the staggering increase of childhood diarrhoea – this is directly related to the water situation in Southern Iraq:

  • In April 2002 there were 30 cases of diarrhoea in the entire month.
  • During the first five days of April 2003, doctors reported 50 cases.

Based on what they’ve seen, they conclude that malnutrition rates are likely to increase sharply by the end of April all over Southern Iraq due to the water situation.

UNICEF is setting up a water bladder of 10-thousand litres for the hospital in Um Qasar today.

Another alarming observation is related to staffing in the hospital itself. Normally, the local hospital has a staff of six doctors. Now there are only two. The others have left to be near their families and homes. By 10am this morning, the two doctors had seen 100 patients. Some wounded and lots of women and children – often very young children, under the age of 5.

On average since the conflict began, the doctors treat 340 cases a day. They see patients from Safwan and even Basra. Basra is the second biggest city in Iraq and medical facilities have been looted, according to the patients who have made the journey from the city.

Children are suffering from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections – common among Iraqi children, but what is uncommon are the numbers of children who are sick and the lack of access to medical care.

For further information please contact us:.

Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF Iraq: gkeele@unicef.org
(962-6) 551-5921 ext. 126,
Cell +962-79) 692-6191
Anis Salem, UNICEF Amman: asalem@unicef.org
(+962-6) 553-9977 ext. 407
(Cell + 962 79 557 9991
Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF Amman: wbelmonte@unicef.org,
(Cell + 962 79 504 2058
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF New York, aironside@unicef.org
(+1-212) 326-7261

For interviews in the region, write or call directly to the UNICEF NewsDesk in Amman:

(962-79) 50422058

UNICEF has video footage from inside Iraq, topics include health, nutrition, education, and access to water and relief supplies being packed at UNICEF's global warehouse . For a Beta copy of the b-roll, along with shot descriptions.