Sunday, August 5, 2007

Judgment Call

(1,329 words)

by Kathy Kelly

Amman, Jordan

Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations may seem to be transfixed, almost mesmerized, by the mounting humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. Bus, since 2003, an admirable group of NGOs, including Oxfam, has steadily tried to address humanitarian needs through collecting and organizing data, establishing priorities, responding to emergencies, and working out ways to deliver food, medicine, and clean water to some of the neediest areas in Iraq.

Although it isn’t ideal, these groups have generally relied on “remote management,” primarily from Jordan, working with anonymous human rights and relief workers, primarily Iraqis, inside of Iraq. From their experience, they are able to identify problems which could be solved, they believe, given the political will of the U.S. government, the Iraqi government, other foreign governments, and the United Nations. The report strongly urges each of these groups to accept critiques of their current programs and to greatly increase efforts to deliver emergency assistance to impoverished and displaced Iraqis.

They’ve particularly urged the Iraqi government to decentralize the distribution of aid.

There are seven huge warehouses in Baghdad. The Iraqi government requires relief groups to deliver all incoming food and medical aid to these central warehouses for quality control followed by coordinated distribution. In theory this could work, but Iraqi government ministries such as the Ministries of Trade and of Labor and Societal Affairs, haven't been functioning well enough to actually allow for delivery, leaving desperately needed food and medicine piling up inside the warehouses.

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Kathy Kelly ( is founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence in Chicago and Amman, Jordan.

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