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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Aid agencies prepare for war

Relief agencies are preparing for refugees and war victims now that Congress has authorized an attack on Iraq. But government departments haven't been willing to consult with them on planning, according to Religion News Service.

While the State Department has awarded grants up to $6 million for humanitarian work in Iraq, the Treasury Department, which administers sanctions, refuses to let relief workers go there.

"The unwillingness of the government to consult on contingency planning will make it more difficult for the nongovernmental organizations to respond in the event [of] conflict," says Jim Bishop of InterAction, a coalition of 160 U.S. nonprofits, including Lutheran World Relief.

LWR sent $500,000 of goods — including food and medical supplies — to be used inside Iraq and on the Iraqi-Jordanian border. But preparations extend to the West Bank, Gaza and Turkey.

Aid officials say war could put 8 million Iraqis at risk and send 1.5 million fleeing into Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.


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