Coalition forces have all but declared
victory in Iraq, yet there has not been
any significant movement of humanitarian
relief. Instead there are looted hospitals
without medicines struggling to treat
the sick and the injured.
So why the delay? Why haven't organizations
such as World Vision started their work?
The reality is that the situation in
Iraq is still unstable from a humanitarian
perspective, and the UN - whose guidance
we rely on to say when to enter a country
safely - are still unable to go into parts
of Iraq to undertake even the most basic
of security assessments. The recent delivery
of food took four days to travel 300 kms
from Jordan to Baghdad and faced danger
at several stages along the journey.
The situation is concerning for all,
including governments and the military.
The allied forces have tried to fill
the void and undertake some humanitarian
work, and indeed the delivery of vital
supplies should be commended.
The airlift of medical supplies, delivered
by the RAAF, will undoubtedly be welcomed
in Iraq. However as we saw from the chaotic
food distribution images from a few weeks
ago, the military don't have the expertise
to distribute emergency aid. Nor should
they be expected to - it's not their job.
It is the job of aid agencies.
But the recent military airlift highlighted
the level of instability within Iraq,
requiring an armed presence to ensure
the safe landing and unloading of these
The answer would seem clear - why not
work with the military to deliver humanitarian
The reality is that in this conflict,
aid agencies are facing unprecedented
For the first time we have a coalition
of governments and military forces who
want to play an active role in delivering
humanitarian assistance themselves.
Aid agencies are having to decide how
closely to work with the military, and
it is not an easy decision.
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